Nobody likes to be the bearer of unhealthy information. However going through actuality and making exhausting selections is one thing our group has been compelled to do these previous 12 months, and CommUnify isn’t any exception. It’s with nice disappointment we announce that efficient July 1, 2021, CommUnify plans to droop our Senior Diet Program, which has served low-income seniors in our group for 47 years. Why? Lack of funding.
For the previous decade, this very important program has been working at a deficit — not solely as a result of rising minimal wage, prices of meals, and transportation, but additionally due to the rise in want by the child increase era, also known as a “silver tsunami.” But our funding from all branches of presidency — county, state, and federal — has been minimize or remained established order. This problem will not be restricted to Santa Barbara County and even California. In 2019, AARP’s Public Coverage Institute concluded that the Older People Act (OAA), which supplies funding for this program, “has didn’t sustain with inflation and elevated demand from a quickly getting older inhabitants.” Whereas we’re grateful for the federal funding we obtain to feed seniors, no nonprofit group can function a program that solely receives 40-45 % of the funding wanted to offer providers. It’s merely not sustainable.
Since 2011, CommUnify has absorbed almost $4 million in unfunded bills, overlaying deficits with our reserves with a view to keep this countywide meal service, however we are able to now not function in a monetary gap, as it’s threatens the long-term monetary stability of the group. The one technique to proceed offering nutritious meals to our low-income seniors, many who’re homebound, is with an extra $600,000-$700,000 in everlastingfunding. Even with this quantity, our group would nonetheless be committing to fundraise roughly $400,000-$500,000 yearly simply to interrupt even.
Making issues worse, meals insecurity amongst seniors in the course of the pandemic has elevated and the demand for meals has soared. In April alone, CommUnify served over 17,000 meals countywide — and the requests from seniors proceed. Over the previous yr, we incurred extra prices related to COVID-19 protocols, reminiscent of sanitation provides and employees coaching, and with group eating websites closed, almost all meals needed to be delivered on to the seniors’ houses. This required extra employees, coaching, autos, fuel, and upkeep. With the help of a really beneficiant philanthropic group, we’ve got been capable of deal with some of these prices. However because the group want ballooned and prices skyrocketed, funding has not stored tempo and our deficit has swelled previous $1 million yearly.
In 2019, we launched into two initiatives to decrease our prices. One was a profitable partnership with Santa Barbara Unified Faculty District’s meals service division to arrange meals for our native Santa Barbara-based seniors, at a lowered value. This liaison went properly till meals prices elevated dramatically, and SBUSD instantly handed that improve on to us in 2020.
The opposite cost-reducing initiative was the implementation of group volunteers to deal with senior meal deliveries, permitting us to save cash on paid labor. That program remains to be up and working however as a result of pandemic, we’ve got solely a small — although devoted — group of volunteers. The labor financial savings right now will not be vital sufficient to alter our monetary trajectory.
In closing, I’d prefer to share this voice message from Anne, one among our program’s seniors, who expressed her gratitude, by means of tears, for the meal and pleasant go to she had obtained that day:
“I used to be simply going to place my bin out on the step, and I get a knock on the door and it’s my supply man. How good and candy he’s. I don’t know what his identify is, however I known as to him and we exchanged phrases. I’m very grateful. , I don’t have any cash to present you … I’m two months behind on my hire … um, however what’s superb is the straightforward issues … I simply wished to say thanks … I’m so appreciative and God bless you.”
It’s our hope that area people will step in to offer the funding wanted to stop the closure of CommUnify’s Senior Diet Program. It has been a privilege serving these most susceptible in our group for all these years and we hope our program can proceed to satisfy this vital fundamental want for many who helped to construct this group. We will be reached on-line at https://www.communifysb.org/senior-services/healthy-table, or by calling (800) 655-0617.
Patricia Keelean is the Chief Govt Officer of CommUnify, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group that works in partnership with the group to offer schooling and supportive providers to residents of Santa Barbara County leading to improved financial safety and self-sufficiency.