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By Corrie M. Anders
A social service program that provides local seniors with nutritious weekday lunches is on the verge of closure--again.
Project Open Hand says budgetary restrictions may force it to stop providing meals at the Noe Valley Ministry and at four other locations in the city.
The Noe Valley Senior Center dining room currently serves up to 20 seniors a day, according to director Wendy Cohen. Seniors must be at least 60 years old to receive the hot meals, which are trucked in from a Project Open Hand central location.
Because of its consistently small number of participants, the meals program at the Ministry is often targeted for elimination during tight budgets. Seniors attending the program, which offers social activities in addition to lunch, will likely be directed to larger programs at other Project Open Hand locations.
"They've been on the chopping block for years, but we've been able to save them," said Darin Raffaelli, senior sites manager for Project Open Hand.
Whether the local program survives the budget axe for the next fiscal year won't be known for a few months. An increase in attendance, or a change in funding sources, might affect the status come July 1.
Until then, seniors can still get meals for a $2 donation at 1021 Sanchez Street. Meals are served 12:30 to 1 p.m., but the center's doors open around noon. (To reserve a lunch, call 415-648-1030 the day before.)
Project Open Hand's senior lunch program is funded by San Francisco's Aging and Adult Services Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, senior contributions, and Project Open Hand. For information, call 415-447-2300 or visit www.openhand.org.