By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
If the Area 12 Agency on Aging can't convince Calaveras County officials to contribute significantly to the senior meals program, some older county residents might find their plates empty.
That was the message agency Executive Director Peggy Lee delivered at the regular monthly meeting of the agency's board of directors Thursday in San Andreas.
Lee and agency fiscal officer Jose Aguilera said the senior nutrition program for Calaveras County was in the hole by $31,000 at the end of October for the fiscal year that just began in July.
The program is losing $6,000 a month, she said, and cannot go more than one more month without relief.
"If we keep going like this, by the end of the year we'll be $92,000 in the hole," Lee said. "Where will we get the money? We'll have no choice but to close down the food program."
Because of the fiscal crisis, the board set a special meeting for 10 a.m. Dec. 19 to discuss the senior nutrition program's need for funds, the cost of rent at the Calaveras County Senior Center, and fund-raising guidelines.
The senior nutrition program, managed since last July by the Area 12 Agency on Aging, provides elderly residents well-balanced meals at a low $2.50 cost. Meals are served cafeteria style in Arnold, Angels Camp, Burson, Copperopolis, Valley Springs and West Point.
There is also a meals-on-wheels service that delivers meals to homebound seniors throughout the county.
According to agency records, 5,505 Calaveras residents ate at one of the cafeteria-style sites last year, and 1,212 individuals had home-delivered meals.
During Thursday's meeting, held at the county Senior Center on Mountain Ranch Road, Lee said the Senior Center is charging the agency $1,000 a month rent which the agency can't afford.
In addition, the center is competing with the agency for donations, thus reducing funding to the meals program.