The city plans to use federal money to start up a free lunch program for senior citizens at a new community center scheduled to be completed this month.
As part of its annual application for a Community Development Block Grant, a federal program that funds projects aimed at helping low- to moderate- income residents, the city proposed spending $26,200 to offer lunch to older residents.
City officials have approached the Feedback Foundation, which currently serves lunch to about 4,000 senior citizens each day, about offering their program. The city would not pay for the lunches, but it would provide two part-time employees and purchase equipment necessary to serve the lunches, such as a commercial refrigerator and warming trays.
Feedback operations manager Sharon Phelps said the organization now serves lunch in 12 north and central county cities and unincorporated areas of the county.
The nonprofit organization receives most of its funding from the federal government, as well as participating cities. Donations from senior citizens account for a significant portion of its budget.
"Our meals cost about $3.98 to serve," said Phelps. "Our average donation was $1.18 a meal. Our people have a lot of pride, and they want to contribute toward the cost of their meals."
To be eligible, participants must be at least 60 years old, or the spouse or dependent child of someone who is at least 60.
Phelps said that despite the city's relatively young, middle-class population, a lunch program aimed at low-income seniors is not as incongruous as it might seem. "There is a mixture of those who come purely for financial reasons and those who have a social need," she said. "But even with our people that are low-income, the meal often becomes secondary to the social aspect."
In addition to the senior lunch program, the city has proposed three other projects for its $264,000 block grant allotment:
* A $20,000 wheelchair ramp at City Hall to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
* Installation of a $130,000 storm drain between the Las Casitas apartment complex and the Villa Pacifica senior citizen apartments.
* Additional funding for the Neighborhood Housing Rehabilitation Program, which offers low-interest loans to qualified residents for home improvements.