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Contra Costa Meals On Wheels Facing Cuts, May Drop 200 Seniors

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Meals on Wheels volunteer driver delivers a meal  to a customer

Meals on Wheels volunteer driver delivers a meal to a customer

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MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa launched an urgent appeal for more donations Monday, saying that a funding shortage could force it to drop 200 people from its roster of 1,200 seniors receiving home-delivered meals.

The Martinez-based nonprofit group currently uses 800 volunteers per year to deliver one nutritious meal each day to 1,200 homebound, low-income elderly people throughout Contra Costa County, according to program director Paul Kraintz.

Kraintz said the organization has been struggling with budget problems for several reasons, including reduced donations and increased need stemming from the recent recession.

But he said a crucial blow has been the loss of $100,000 in funding as a result of the federal budget sequestration.

“The sequestration was a bridge way too far,” he said.

“We’re always struggling with increased need for services and not enough revenue, but when the federal government hit us for $100,000, it made it so we had to act differently,” he said.

Kraintz said the program has an annual budget of $3.5 million. About 60 percent of that comes from donations from individuals and foundations and contributions from the seniors, who pay on a sliding scale ranging from zero to $5 for the meals.

The other 40 percent comes from state, local and federal governments. Until recently, that included $500,000 per year from the senior nutrition program of the federal Administration for Community Living, formerly known as the Administration of Aging.

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