The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

June 25, 2013

Meals on Wheels of Palestine facing funding cuts

PALESTINE — Earlier this month, Meals On Wheels Association of America released results of a survey detailing the impact of federally mandated budget cuts on local Meals on Wheels organizations across the country.

Meals On Wheels of Palestine Inc., which serves 900 meals a day five days a week in Anderson, Cherokee and Rusk counties, was one of the participating survey participants that has had to undergo several cost-cutting measures recently, including eliminating staff positions, moving employees from salary to hourly pay and placing new MOW participants on a waiting list.

“The simple reason is that we do not have the money,” MOW of Palestine Inc. Executive Director Lois Durant told the Herald-Press.

Nearly 70 percent of the Meals on Wheels programs across the country also reported in the survey that they have had to reduce the number of meals served to the nation’s hungry and homebound seniors.

On average, 364 meals per week have been cut and more than 70 percent are establishing or adding to existing waiting lists. Programs have increased their waiting lists on average by 58 seniors, and 40 percent of programs responding have eliminated staff positions or are closing congregate meals sites or home-delivered meal program.

“Every day, Meals on Wheels programs provide a lifeline by serving meals to our nation's most vulnerable, frail, and isolated seniors,” Meals On Wheels Association President and CEO Ellie Hollander said. “The real impact of sequester is that our programs don't have the ability to expand to meet the growing need.

“We should be investing in these programs to ensure our seniors have the nutritious meals they need to remain healthy and independent.”

The survey was conducted among Meals On Wheels Association members who currently receive federal funding through the Older Americans Act.

But that funding isn’t the only funding that has been cut to local programs.

“I went to the East Texas Council of Governments meeting recently and was given word that we will be cut a little more than $15,000 between now and Sept. 30,” Durant said. “The $15,000 cut is not set in stone yet, but it is most likely going to happen.

“We are discussing ways to try to save money the best we can without cutting services.”

In addition, Meal on Wheels also will be cutting 5 percent on next year’s budget, which starts in October, due to more mandated budget cuts.

“That amounts to a little over $13,000,” Durant said.

In addition, Durant said she has gotten word from a contractor Meals on Wheels gets state funding from that it’s possible the organization will be cut by the equivalent of 6,000 meals from its Title XX program, which comes to a cost of $29,700. However, through its Title XIX program, it may get an increase.

“It’s a waiting game and it can be really hard to figure out where to find the money for the programs,” Durant said.

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