Week of June 12, 2024

Governor Newsom Must Protect Meals for Seniors

We are facing one of the most challenging budget crises in our state’s history. While fiscal responsibility is crucial, it is unconscionable to balance the budget on the backs of low-income seniors who are already struggling. The Governor’s proposal to cut $111 million over the next three years from California’s Modernizing Older Californians Act (MOCA) pushes thousands of older adults towards hunger. This situation is exacerbated by our local failure to secure future funding for senior nutrition meals.

This cut represents a 60% reduction in meals and nutrition services, resulting in 5.7 million fewer meals annually across the state, according to the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The impact will be severe: increased waitlists for Meals on Wheels, hunger, emergency visits, early institutionalization, preventable deaths, and rising senior homelessness—the fastest-growing homeless population.

The severity of the situation is well-documented. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health News report revealed that malnutrition deaths among older Californians have more than doubled from about 650 in 2018 to roughly 1,400 in 2022. The need for senior nutrition programs is expected to grow as the population ages.

Meals on Wheels is a proven solution, reducing healthcare costs and nursing home use while improving food security, diet quality, and reducing social isolation. Cutting funding now would be shortsighted and harmful, exacerbating problems among seniors.

We urge our legislators to propose cuts that do not impact existing services and to stand behind the thousands of seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels. Let’s “Protect the Meal.”

Ray Cancino
CEO, Community Bridges

Dana Wagner
Interim Program Director, Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz Count


But Not an Original One. Richard Stockton’s GT story on the history of Santa Cruz First Friday (6/5/24) seemed to imply that Kirby Scudder and Chip invented the concept of First Friday monthly public art events. They didn’t.

First Friday art events were present all over the country in 2004 and years before. Not only was Santa Cruz not the first in the country (Boston), or the state (Oakland), it can be reasonably questioned whether they were first in the Monterey Bay region (Monterey). My wife and I vividly recall going to an advertised First Friday art exhibit in Monterey a year or two before Santa Cruz and saying out loud, “Santa Cruz should have something like this.”

Kudos to Kirby and Chip for appropriating the idea to make it a great Santa Cruz event. Good idea, but not an original one. Sorry to burst the bubble that Santa Cruz is always the center of the creative universe.

Ron Powers | Aptos


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