Barely a month in operation, a senior lunch program at Las Palmas Park is struggling to keep up with demand, and has had to turn away hungry residents, according to volunteers and officials.
"We don't want to turn people away, but we've had to," said Jess Margarito, director of Recreation and Community Services for the city of San Fernando. "People are not that understanding if someone invites them to lunch and then there's not enough food to feed them."
More than 100 nearby residents show up Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. for the hot lunch program at Las Palmas Park, said Virginia Ufano, the park's human services supervisor. "Generally, we don't have enough to feed everyone who wants to eat."
The program also has had to rely on volunteer efforts, because funds from the city of San Fernando don't include a part-time staffer for the program. Margarito said he will ask the City Council to fund a part-time position at the park, which would cost about $6,000.
The city already allocated $6,000 to the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council, a private, nonprofit group that has a county contract to serve meals at 17 sites countywide. Although county officials approved the interfaith council's expansion into the park, it did not fund the Las Palmas program this year, said Alma Patotzka, director of the meals program for the council. She hopes to obtain funding in the spring.