Future Uncertain for CommUnify’s Senior Nutrition Program

Future Uncertain for CommUnify’s Senior Nutrition Program
Future Uncertain for CommUnify’s Senior Nutrition Program

No one likes to be the bearer of unhealthy information. But going through actuality and making exhausting selections is one thing our neighborhood has been pressured to do these previous 12 months, and CommUnify is not any exception. It is with nice unhappiness we announce that efficient July 1, 2021, CommUnify plans to droop our Senior Nutrition Program, which has served low-income seniors in our neighborhood for 47 years. Why? Lack of funding.

Angel Boligan, El Universal, Mexico City, caglecartoons.com

For the previous decade, this important program has been operating at a deficit — not solely as a result of growing minimal wage, prices of meals, and transportation, but in addition due to the rise in want by the newborn increase era, also known as a “silver tsunami.” Yet our funding from all branches of presidency — county, state, and federal — has been minimize or remained established order. This problem isn’t restricted to Santa Barbara County and even California. In 2019, AARP’s Public Policy Institute concluded that the Older Americans Act (OAA), which supplies funding for this program, “has didn’t sustain with inflation and elevated demand from a quickly getting old inhabitants.” While we’re grateful for the federal funding we obtain to feed seniors, no nonprofit group can function a program that solely receives 40-45 % of the funding wanted to supply providers. It is solely not sustainable.

Since 2011, CommUnify has absorbed almost $4 million in unfunded bills, overlaying deficits with our reserves with a purpose to preserve this countywide meal service, however we are able to not function in a monetary gap, as it’s threatens the long-term monetary stability of the group. The solely strategy to proceed offering nutritious meals to our low-income seniors, many who’re homebound, is with an extra $600,000-$700,000 in everlastingfunding. Even with this quantity, our group would nonetheless be committing to fundraise roughly $400,000-$500,000 yearly simply to interrupt even.

Making issues worse, meals insecurity amongst seniors throughout the pandemic has elevated and the demand for meals has soared. In April alone, CommUnify served over 17,000 meals countywide — and the requests from seniors proceed. Over the previous yr, we incurred further prices related to COVID-19 protocols, equivalent to sanitation provides and employees coaching, and with neighborhood eating websites closed, almost all meals needed to be delivered on to the seniors’ houses. This required extra employees, coaching, automobiles, gasoline, and upkeep. With the help of a really beneficiant philanthropic neighborhood, we have now been capable of deal with some of these prices. But because the neighborhood want ballooned and prices skyrocketed, funding has not stored tempo and our deficit has swelled previous $1 million yearly.

Patricia Keelean

In 2019, we launched into two initiatives to decrease our prices. One was a profitable partnership with Santa Barbara Unified School District’s meals service division to organize meals for our native Santa Barbara-based seniors, at a lowered price. This liaison went properly till meals prices elevated dramatically, and SBUSD all of the sudden handed that enhance on to us in 2020.

The different cost-reducing initiative was the implementation of neighborhood volunteers to deal with senior meal deliveries, permitting us to economize on paid labor. That program remains to be up and operating however as a result of pandemic, we have now solely a small — although devoted — group of volunteers. The labor financial savings presently isn’t vital sufficient to vary our monetary trajectory.

In closing, I’d wish to share this voice message from Anne, one in all our program’s seniors, who expressed her gratitude, by way of tears, for the meal and pleasant go to she had obtained that day:

“I used to be simply going to place my bin out on the step, and I get a knock on the door and it’s my supply man. How good and candy he’s. I don’t know what his title is, however I known as to him and we exchanged phrases. I’m very grateful. You know, I don’t have any cash to present you … I’m two months behind on my hire … um, however what’s wonderful is the easy issues … I simply needed to say thanks … I’m so appreciative and God bless you.”

It is our hope that area people will step in to supply the funding wanted to forestall the closure of CommUnify’s Senior Nutrition Program. It has been a privilege serving these most susceptible in our neighborhood for all these years and we hope our program can proceed to fulfill this crucial primary want for individuals who helped to construct this neighborhood. We may be reached on-line at https://www.communifysb.org/senior-services/healthy-table, or by calling (800) 655-0617.

Patricia Keelean is the Chief Executive Officer of CommUnify, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group that works in partnership with the neighborhood to supply schooling and supportive providers to residents of Santa Barbara County leading to improved financial safety and self-sufficiency.

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