The Del Norte County Senior Center's nutrition program recently received a boost, courtesy of Walmart.

The store chain donated $918,000 to 33 non-profit organizations statewide, including the local senior center, which received $25,000, the corporation announced Saturday. The senior center will use the money to cover nutrition program expenses that other funding sources don't cover, said Executive Director Charlaine Mazzei.

"The nice thing about it is it's very flexible funding," she said. "We have other funding sources that are specific in what they're (supposed to be) used for."

The nutrition program provides hot meals for seniors at the senior center or through the organization's meal delivery program, Mazzei said. The senior center serves about 69 meals per day to those who come in to socialize and eat their lunch. The center also delivers about 81 meals per day to home-bound seniors.

The center's nutrition program is partially funded with Title III funds through a contract with the Area 1 Agency on Aging, Mazzei said. It costs roughly $200,000 a year to run the program, and the center gets about half of that from the agency, she said.

A Community Development Block Grant through the county covers the other half, Mazzei said.

"A fair chunk of our funding comes from donations of participants," Mazzei said, adding that the senior center asks people to provide a $3 donation for a meal. "It provides at least one hot meal a day for folks who either may not otherwise have a meal or who just want to come and socialize."

In the last year, however, the number of home-delivered meals have outnumbered the number of meals served at the center, Mazzei said. Overall there has been a slight increase in those people who use the senior center's meal service.

"It helps them remain in their own home longer than they might be able to otherwise," Mazzei said. "You have to qualifyto be on home-delivered meals.You have to actually qualify as being home-bound and we're seeing an increase in that."

The $25,000 grant was donated through the Walmart Foundation's California State Giving Program, according to a company press release. Nonprofit organizations must submit an application to be considered for a grant. The program has awarded $2.2 million in grants statewide.

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