Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency’s food bank in Jamestown and homeless shelter in Sonora could be on the brink of full or partial closure later this year without the help of funding that the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors will consider at a public hearing on Tuesday.
The board is scheduled to hold the public hearing at 1:30 p.m., during a regular meeting that starts at 9 a.m. in the board’s chambers on the fourth floor of the County Administration Center at 2 S. Green St. in Sonora.
According to meeting documents, there’s expected to be up to $300,000 available in money from a $2 million Community Development Block Grant in 2016 that benefitted ATCAA’s food bank and housing programs, as well as $1.5 million to replace a deteriorating water tank in Jamestown.
ATCAA is requesting $175,000 for the food bank and $50,000 for the shelter to help sustain both services through September 2019, when the latest CDBG funding cycle ends.
Sierra Senior Providers Inc., meanwhile, is requesting the remaining $75,000 for its Meals on Wheels program that delivers hot meals to homebound seniors in the county.
Raj Rambob, executive director of ATCAA, explained that the food bank would run out of funding by September and the shelter would face a full or partial closure by the end of the year without the additional money.
Rambob said both programs benefit children in the county directly, though they also help adults who have fallen through the cracks.
“Whether it was family systems or school systems, sometimes we just didn’t get it right,” he said of some adults served by the food bank and shelter. “I see these programs as an opportunity to continue working with people into adulthood in hopes we can find folks some stability, a strong sense of self, and reconnection to independence and determination.”
With the $50,000, the shelter is estimated to serve an additional 105 adults and 39 children.
The 25-bed shelter allows people to stay for up to 30 days and requires them to be actively looking for work and permanent housing, though they sometimes can stay longer if they are doing as much as they can.
Rambob said the shelter’s funding has been “teetering” for awhile as more government funds are dedicated to other programs dedicated to getting people into permanent housing as a first step.
“It started years ago when there was a big housing first push, which is fantastic, but you can’t make that the sole approach when there are thousands of people who need shelter,” he said.
The food bank has served an average of nearly 4,300 clients per month and dished out 52,800 pounds of food per month over the past year. It has a network of 45 distribution sites that are staffed by a total of nearly 400 volunteers.
Bruce Giudici, fiscal officer of ATCAA, explained that there are fewer funding sources to sustain food bank programs than there are for housing.
Giudici said one way to create a more stable source of funding for the bank would be for the county to break off some money dedicated for mental health or veterans, both of which are populations served by the food bank.
As for the Meals on Wheels program, the additional $75,000 would allow the Sierra Senior Providers to reintroduce a five-day a week delivery schedule. Tuesdays were cut last year due to budget constraints.
The funding would also carry the program through September 2019.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4530.