Madera's Senior Nutrition Program hit with budget cuts

MADERA, Calif.

Madera's Senior Nutrition Program delivers food to more than twice as many seniors this year, than they did last year. With less funding and fewer donations, program coordinators say they're forced to be creative with the resources they have available.

Monday through Friday, five of these marked vans travel all over Madera and Madera County delivering hot meals to 253 seniors like 92-year-old, Jim Chastain.

Jim Chastain said, "They're dependable, you're here, they bring the food and they set it down and that's what they do."

Miguel Flores' 74-year-old mother Candelaria is another client.

She been using Madera County's meals on wheels program for five years, something Flores, says he's grateful for.

Miguel Flores said, "It's great for her to have a hot meal once a day. She's had double knee surgery. It's hard for her to get around. She doesn't drive."

Having meals delivered to their homes every day, doesn't cost these seniors any money. But, they are asked to donate what they can, and those donations are dwindling.

Mary Anne Seay said, "In 2007, 2008 fiscal year, we took in about 75,000 dollars in donations. Those are voluntary donations from the program participants themselves and this year, which is set to end on June 30th, we're hoping to get to 45,000 dollars."

Mary Anne Seay is the director of Madera Parks and Community Services. She says, since they can't deny serving anyone, the department is forced to make some changes. That includes, delivering five frozen meals once a week instead of one hot meal per day, layoffs, and reducing hours at seven senior centers throughout Madera and Madera County.

Seay said, "Seniors are still going to be getting the same amount of meals; our service delivery plan is just changing to match our revenues."

Flores said, "There's hundreds of people that rely on meals everyday and a frozen meal is just not gonna cut it."

Madera's Parks and Community Services Department is still looking for extra funding. In the meantime, they will present this budget proposal to the Madera city council Wednesday. If approved, the changes will take place sometime between July and September.

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