An independent Meals on Wheels audit reveals no evil in spring's startling reduction of food for homebound seniors as demand shot up.
However, Stanislaus County leaders today are expected to approve seeking new bids for the delivery service as well as senior lunches served at 14 sites throughout the area.
Also, suggested donations for meals will rise from $2 to $3; the average contribution comes to 16 cents for delivered meals and 75 cents at lunch sites.
About 850 homebound seniors rely on deliveries, with no income restriction, although 58 percent are considered poor.
Emergency donations in late May partially rescued the service from a six-week shutdown after news broke that Meals on Wheels would run out of money before the start of a new funding round. Even so, the number of delivered meals was halved in May and reduced by an additional half in June.
Auditors blame turnover in management at the Howard Training Center, which runs the programs, and poor communication with the county's Area Agency on Aging, which oversees the contract.
The result: seniors in June received 11,791 fewer meals than in April.
Officials with the center and the agency have apologized for responding too slowly. They changed procedures to prevent it from happening again, says a report going before county supervisors this morning.
If a provisional $682,650 contract with Howard Training Center is approved today for the next nine months, the center would be reimbursed $55,850 each month for Meals on Wheels and $20,000 for group lunches. Parceling out the money should avert another near-disaster, the report says.
The Howard Training Center historically has secured additional grants and could feed more people if that continues, the report says.
The document blames the center's "lack of oversight in monitoring meal service levels" for the "severe reduction." But auditors produced "no significant findings related to the internal controls of the Howard Training Center," and recommended that the Area Agency on Aging "even out" monthly payments.
If approved today, the provisional contract would run through June 30. County administrators suggest calling for bids in January, with "new provisions to ensure the program operates in the most efficient and accountable manner," the report says. The bid winner would take over or continue, if it's the Howard Training Center July 1.
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. today in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.
On the Net: www.stancounty.com/bos/agenda/2012/Ag09-25-12.pdf.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.