Due to rising operating costs and limited funding sources, the Senior Nutrition Program will soon reduce its service from five days a week to four.

Due to rising operating costs and limited funding sources, the Senior Nutrition Program will soon reduce its service from five days a week to four.

Beginning Nov. 15, meals will no longer be served on Mondays, said Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District administrator Mike Rodriguez.

“We just don’t have enough income to meet our expenses,” Rodriguez said. “This has been a very difficult decision to make... We appreciate all the donations we receive from the community, but the program has been going backward instead of forward over the last few years.”

Many of those who come regularly to the Senior Nutrition Center for a balanced, nutritious lunch say they’re sad to hear the program will be cutting back.

“It’s a bummer,” said Weed’s James Stewart, who comes for lunch five days a week with his wife, Jan. He added that he’s worried about the future of the program with the current state of the economy.

The Senior Nutrition Program provides low cost meals to approximately 100 seniors and homebound individuals each day. About 60 of those meals are delivered to homes around South County, including Mount Shasta, Dunsmuir, Weed, McCloud and outlying areas, and the other 40 are served at the Mount Shasta City Park.

The program is funded both federally and through the California Department of Aging, explained Cindy Smith, the MSRPD’s administrative assistant.

The program hasn’t received any funding since June because of the recently bridged state budget impasse, she said.

“We’ve been operating on available cash and the generosity of our vendors, who let us go for a few months. But now it’s getting past that, and they need to be paid.”

Though the funding delay has been an inconvenience, it’s not the reason the program is cutting back, Smith said.

“Costs are going up – food, gas, worker’s compensation insurance – it’s all getting more expensive, and funding is staying the same.

“We saw the writing on the wall several years ago,” continued Smith. “Every year we run a $10,000 to $15,000 budget deficit that must be made up by June 15, the end of the fiscal year.”

This is usually accomplished through fundraisers and charitable contributions from businesses and individuals in the community. However, this isn’t a wise strategy, said Smith.

“We have all our eggs in one basket, and we can’t keep depending on donations to fund the program.”

Mount Shasta’s Barbara Thomas said she’s been enjoying Senior Nutrition Program lunches at the City Park since 1973.

“I’ve been in and out of the hospital and care centers, and I come every day on the bus. Many of the people that were coming before have passed on, and we’re getting a new group. I think this closure is going to affect quite a few people, especially those that no longer drive... coming here is great, especially because you get to see friends that you wouldn’t otherwise,” Thomas said.

Though Rodriguez said he doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone, he feels cutting one meal per week is a better option than putting the entire program in jeopardy.

Mount Shasta’s Elizabeth Coleman, who comes to the Senior Nutrition Center for lunch five days a week, echoed that thought. “I’m sad they’re closing one day a week, but I’m glad they’re not closing any more than that,” she said.

“We’ve been stretching ourselves to keep the program going five days a week, and it’s just not realistic,” Rodriguez said. “We have to do the fiscally responsible thing.”