•WHAT: Wine tasting evening, Howard Training Center and Modesto Kiwanis Club
•WHEN: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18
•WHERE: Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., in Modesto
•DETAILS: Howard Training Center and Modesto Kiwanis Club have joined together to present an elegant evening of wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres provided by Grgich Family Catering and a donation drawing and prizes. The event will help each organization raise money for the programs it offers.
•TICKETS: $35 per person
•INFO: Geri Lewis, 593-5618; or Jim Mesquit, 499-1825
The organization that prepares lunches served at Hammon Senior Center in Patterson has cut back on its senior meal programs, despite a surge in donations this spring.
Howard Training Center, which has worked with the Stanislaus County Agency on Aging to provide senior lunches during the past six years, has reduced the days it offers meals from five to three each week because of an increase in demand for lunches this year.
After serving more than twice the average number of meals during the first five months of the year, the center ran short of funding. The meal program received $43,000 in donations from organizations, businesses and individuals following an announcement in May that it needed more money to feed seniors in Stanislaus County. That infusion of cash allowed the meal program to end the fiscal year June 30 with a small deficit.
Seniors at the Hammon Senior Center in Patterson are among those who receive meals at 13 senior and community centers in the county who have felt the pinch because of the shortfall in Howard Training Center’s $962,000 yearly budget.
Betty Carlson , 88, a member of the Hammon Senior Center board, has attended the lunches for 18 years — first at the temporary senior hall on F Street and then at the new center on West Las Palmas Avenue.
For some seniors, the lunches at the Hammon center are the main meal of the day, she said.
“I’m very upset they cut it back to three days a week, because there are too many people who attend the program who need a good nutritious meal five days a week,” Carlson said. “There are many of these elderly people who don’t cook for themselves at home — they probably just snack. When you live alone, you don’t like cooking for just one person.”
The cost-cutting measure came about because the Howard Training Center, which normally serves 60,000 meals annually, had already served 64,754 meals by May 21.
The donations that followed allowed Howard Training Center to provide 5,000 more meals for the next five weeks of the fiscal year ending June 30, but that still was not enough for the center to continue to provide lunches each weekday.
Claudia Miller, the executive director of Howard Training Center, said requests for meals rose as the economy slowed.
“We’ve actually had to cut back, because there isn’t enough money for what we were able to do before,” Miller said. “The demand has just gone up, and the money is not keeping pace with the demand.”
In July, Howard Training Center served 97 seniors on the West Side, providing 363 meals in Patterson, 180 meals in Grayson and 187 in Newman — 20 percent of the 3,663 meals served that month at sites throughout Stanislaus County. The organization also delivered food to 33 homebound seniors age 80 and older on the West Side.
Howard Training Center provides meals throughout the county each day of the week, Miller said. Though seniors on the West Side can get lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, someone with a car and knowledge of the lunch schedule could find a place to eat five days a week by driving to sites in the county where lunches are served on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Looking ahead, Howard Training Center is planning a fundraiser evening of wine tasting in October at the Gallo Center for the Arts in downtown Modesto to raise money for the meals program.
“We’ll also review July, August, and September and take a look at the usage and funding and see where we go from there,” Miller said.
Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or email@example.com.