By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
The Area 12 Agency on Aging is seeking a group or agency to take over Calaveras County's senior citizen meals program.
Only four months into the fiscal year, the program is $25,000 in the hole.
At Thursday's meeting of Area 12 directors, the board approved the search and Executive Director Peggy Lee said she's placing ads in area newspapers asking interested groups to send letters of intent.
Because formal proposals will also be needed, the Area 12 staff next week will review requirements so any group interested in taking over the program will know how to put propsal packages together.
The winning organization will begin providing meals for senior citizens in the county on Jan. 1.
Last year, the program served more than 6,700 meals to Calaveras County seniors.
The program is responsible for meals served at the Calaveras Senior Center in San Andreas, and at outlying sites in Arnold, Angels Camp, Burson, Copperopolis, Valley Springs and West Point, as well as the home-delivery program Meals on Wheels.
At senior centers and other locations, seniors can gather and share cafeteria-style meals. There are also restaurant programs where seniors can order nutritionally sound meals.
Funding for these programs comes from the state, through grants and from the $2.50 donation requested for each meal.
History of money problems
For years, Lee said, budgets for Calaveras County senior meals programs have been in the red.
Meals providers in the past have included the Human Resources Council, Sierra Foothill Senior Management and the Mother Lode Senior Citizens.
All have struggled with budget shortfalls.
The Area 12 Agency took over Calaveras' program July 1 from Mother Lode Senior Citizens in an effort to solve budget problems, but has found itself in even worse financial straits because, as a public agency, it cannot accept donations that the nonprofit Mother Lode Senior Citizens could accept.