Buellton food program

Linda Linton, Buellton Senior Center volunteer coordinator, bags produce while Meals on Wheels coordinator Merrill Clayton, in background, loads the center's van with produce and hot meals for delivery to local seniors in April 2020. The Meals on Wheels program there is in jeopardy after it wasn't recommended for Community Development Block Grant funding approved May 3 by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Some middle-county community services programs weren’t included in funding from the Community Development Block Grant program, and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors was reluctant to change the recommendations.

Supervisors on May 3 unanimously approved the recommended funding allocations from several sources to the recommended organizations.

But Board Chair and 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann vowed to search for additional money to support the Mid-County Meals on Wheels program after asking how the recommended allocations were determined.

She noted the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara Meals on Wheels programs were funded but the middle-county program was not.

Dinah Lockhart, deputy director of the Community Services Department, said applications were numerically scored by the Human Services Commission Allocations Committee on nine factors, then considered based on geographic location, whether they met objectives and the number of beneficiaries.

It was only after the recommendations were made that questions arose about the mid-county program.

George Chapjian said there are also a number of other programs that could provide funding.

Pam Nico, chief executive officer of the Santa Ynez Valley Senior Citizen Foundation, told the board just six agencies among the many considered were not funded, and she asked that the supervisors come up with a way to support those.

“In June, Santa Ynez Valley Senior Center will no longer be funded by a county grant,” Nico said, adding that the nutrition program and the on-call transportation program that takes seniors and veterans to medical appointments from Paso Robles to Los Angeles were lost in the CDBG funding.

Hartmann said she appreciated all the work that was done to come up with the recommendations.

“But I believe, as a matter of policy, we shouldn’t disturb those unless there’s some overriding reason,” Hartmann said. “But I’ll be shaking the trees trying to see that Meals on Wheels in the central part of our county — Lompoc, Los Alamos and the Santa Ynez Valley communities — have senior Meals on Wheels available.”

Lockhart noted the CDBG funds were estimates, and the county won’t know the actual amounts until around May 11.

But she said if the actual amounts came in higher than estimated, some of that could be allocated to the Buellton Senior Center, which supplies the meals program.

Hartmann asked that fellow supervisors support that idea, but 1st District Supervisor Das Williams advised holding off on that.

“Even funding the two that we’re talking about that’s recommended is basically doing what we resolved not to do last time we talked about those programs, which was to try to look at them all together,” Williams said.

Hartmann pointed out there is also a surplus in other funds that could be directed to the Buellton Senior Center.

Williams also asked if the Santa Ynez Valley program had the next-highest score among those not funded and was told it was not, that others scored higher.

In addition, a request for proposals is being prepared for looking at critical gaps and structural issues in the meals programs, and that money could then be directed to close those gaps.

Williams moved to approve the funding but to hold off on directing any additional funds until a report from that assessment is provided, which is expected in six months or less.

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