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La Comida set to move to south Palo Alto

Deal with Stevenson House gives senior-lunch program an interim home

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After four decades in downtown Palo Alto, La Comida's popular lunch program for seniors will move to Charleston Road as part of an agreement between the nonprofit and Stevenson House, a senior-housing community, the two organizations announced in a joint statement Friday afternoon.

The agreement means that La Comida will have a home for at least a year after Aug. 30, when it is scheduled to depart from its home at 450 Bryant Ave., a city-owned building occupied by Avenidas. It also means that it will be able to provide its lunch program without interruptions.

It does not, however, resolve the broader question about La Comida's long-term future. When Avenidas concludes its major reconstruction project and reopens to the public, it is expected to have a smaller dining area than what exists today. Last year, La Comida users argued that the new dining area would be insufficient for a program that supports 140 to 160 seniors daily. La Comida and Avenidas reach an agreement in December to permanently part ways.

According to the statement, La Comida will continue to search for a downtown location that can accommodate its long-term needs.

In the mean time, however, it will be moving into the Stevenson House building at 455 E. Charleston Road. According to the joint statement, boards of directors of both organizations "have been sensitive to residential issues of safety, security and privacy not to mention transportation concerns and the lack of on-site parking for lunch-goers."

The agreement, according to the statement, was forged with support from John Stewart Company, the property manager of Stevenson House, a senior community that has its own dining program (albeit, one much smaller than the La Comida one). According to the announcement, Stevenson House has a well-equipped but currently unused commercial kitchen.

Davina Brown, vice president of the La Comida Board, and Sally Mahoney, president of the Stevenson House board, said in the joint statement that both organizations are "long-standing in service to Palo Alto, and both benefit from its support."

"La Comida has a need that, if not addressed, would deprive our community's seniors of an important program of food and fellowship, indeed, a long-standing, much needed and loved lunch program," the statement says. "Stevenson House has a kitchen and dining room, one too small for La Comida's long term needs, but helpful for an interim. We have agreed to make it work for Stevenson House and for the larger community."

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