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LEMOORE — After lunch had finished at the Lemoore Senior Center, a group of four seniors discussed how much rain it would take for the roof to cave in. They agreed that it wouldn’t take much.

The largest amount of water damage seems to be toward the south side of the building, near the front entrance to the nutrition building.

The Lemoore Senior Citizens Inc.'s board of directors is still working to improve the situation.

The seniors are working on fundraising to improve their nutrition building and are in the process of changing their lunch provider to a cheaper alternative.

After receiving a $1.4 million grant, the Lemoore Senior Citizens Inc. in conjunction with the city of Lemoore was able to renovate one of its two buildings - the one that is rented for events - and the parking lot, but little money was left to do repairs on the other building where meals are served and which the seniors use every day. From the receipt of the grant to project completion, it took three years to complete the work on the one building and parking lot.

Looking toward future projects, the repair or replacement of the roof or ceiling in the nutrition building is the top priority, Nadine Morton, the board’s treasurer, said.

Madeline Jung, a volunteer and member, said that she is surprised the building is allowed to be used in the state it is in.

In a previous Sentinel article, Richard Rea, the Lemoore Senior Citizens Inc. board president, said that the nutrition building had problems including the bad roof, dry rot, termites, mold and temperamental heating and air conditioning units. Rea also said that they will use the nutrition building as long as they can.

The cities engineering consultant QK estimated in 2016 that the repairs to the nutrition building would be around $517,805.

Frank Rivera said the city has neither current plans nor formal requests to do the repairs on the building as of now.

In the meantime, the seniors are continuing their efforts to raise money with their usual fundraisers. Aside from their weekly Bingo fundraiser, the senior’s next coming event is the Makers’ Fair that Sarah Mooney Museum co-hosts June 16.

The board is in the process of changing lunch providers, so more seniors can afford the program.

Currently, Josephine Wood makes lunch Monday to Thursday at a cost to seniors of $4 to $5.

When Wood is not serving food to the seniors, she works at 201 Kitchen, a poke bowl shop, in Hanford.

Wood said she buys nutritious food as cheaply as possible and only charges for the cost to purchase the food.

“To me, it’s part of giving back to the community,” Wood said.

The new provider is expected to be Kings/Tulare Area Agency on Aging's Senior Center Dining program. If successful, the new dining program will be able to reduce the cost of each lunch to around $2.50.

According to the agency's website the $2.50 would be an optional charge and there is also a home delivery service.

Rea said the deal will hopefully be done in the coming days. 

Jason Glick, the parks and recreation director, has been helping the Lemoore seniors facilitate make this switch. He said that this switch is contingent upon the approval of a grant to fund it.

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The seniors should know by the end of this month if they will be able to make the change, Glick said.

If the switch is made, Wood would stop serving lunch in June and the new dining program would pick up in July.

Wood said that she just wants to make sure the senior citizens have access to a healthy lunch and is happy they are going to be able to reduce the price.

Looking forward, Wood wants to be an active member of the group when she comes of age in around 10 years. Wood said she doesn’t want the senior citizen's group in south Lemoore to fade away.

Another concern among some of the seniors was low attendance at lunch. 

Seniors in Lemoore make up around 7.7 percent of the population of Lemoore, roughly 2,000 people, yet only 12 to 30 seniors participate in the lunch program.

Other regular senior programs include exercise and walking at the Lemoore Recreation Center. These programs draw around 50 to 60 people, Glick said.

One potential deterrent for seniors who no longer drive could be transportation. There is no KART stop south of Highway 198.

Glick said that the Lemoore recreation center is more suited for the exercise and walking program, but the department would be open to having some classes for seniors in the future at the actual senior center.

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