Meals for elderly residents may take a hit in Klamath County

County budget committee wants to cut the funding

KLAMATH FALLS — Tight local government budgets in Oregon's timber country have made headlines as county sheriffs turn loose prisoners in droves for lack of money to keep them jailed.

But there's other belt tightening under way, such as in Klamath County, where the budget committee has recommended eliminating the county's annual contribution for meals for the elderly. The panel has been eliminating expenditures for programs the county isn't required to undertake.

The county has averaged $50,000 a year in contributions to the nutrition program over the past decade, but the figure fell to $35,000 last year, the Klamath Falls Herald and News reported.

The meals program operates on a total budget of about $500,000 from eight governments, agencies and other partners.

About 130 people eat at the senior center, and an equal number get home meals — one a day Monday through Thursday, and three for the weekend on Friday.

The only member of the Klamath County committee who opposed ending the funding was Kelley Minty Morris, who suggested the county wean the program with a decreased amount of funding, perhaps $15,000 or $20,000 for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

"When I wean my calves, I take them away from their mothers. Today. That's the last they see their mothers. That's the most humane way to wean somebody," said committee member Del Fox. "Let's wean these people my way."

Senior center director Marc Kane said he hopes the committee will change its mind at a final meeting next week before its recommendations go to the full county commission.

The city of Klamath Falls gave the program $35,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and it also is facing tough budget times, Kane said.

The federal government's recent round of budget cuts could erode the program. Money granted through the Older Americans Act and U.S. Department of Agriculture food programs accounted for almost $118,000 of the program's budget this year.

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