Outside agencies to provide meals

March 07, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

At least through the end of June, two outside agencies will provide senior meals in Calaveras County.

The Area 12 Agency on Aging Board of Directors yesterday elected to have Common Ground Senior Services Inc. of Amador County and Sierra Foothill Senior Management Inc. of Tuolumne County transport cafeteria-style and home-delivered meals to senior citizens here as of March 17.

Area 12 has been running the senior meals program since last year, and is about $43,000 short of breaking even. The agency is not the first nonprofit to fall behind when it comes to senior meals in Calaveras.

Recently, it moved out of the Calaveras Senior Center's kitchen — from where it prepared all the hot meals that were delivered to homes and satellite meal sites in other communities — to save on the $1,000 monthly rent.

The financial bleeding isn't slowing, so the agency is trying different options.

For Sierra Foothill Senior Management, Inc., coming to Calaveras is a return — but not necessarily a welcome one.

Bev Breed, finance officer for Sierra Foothill, said she and her nonprofit company return reluctantly. Sierra Foothill provided senior meals in Calaveras County for almost two years — one of five providers in the last eight years — but Breed said the experience was less than pleasant.

"We were outsiders," Breed said. "We were not treated well."

Sierra Foothill also ran a deficit in Calaveras. Breed said because her organization was viewed as an outsider, fund-raisers were poorly attended. The agency received little support from county supervisors, as well, Breed said.

But Sierra Foothill agreed to provide Calaveras seniors with meals because there is a need, Breed told the board yesterday.

"The only reason we're doing it now is so people won't go hungry," she said. "It's a hardship to us to provide the meals."

The 4-0 vote in favor of contracting with the two agencies came after long discussion of financial issues.