Posted: Feb 27, 2013 1:33 PM by Janine Reyes
Updated: Feb 27, 2013 6:51 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI -- The effects of sequestration will begin March 1st if the federal government does nothing. One part of those cuts is the Older Americans Act. It contains a series of programs that could have serious implications for the aging population in our community.
In Corpus Christi, Meals on Wheels will see a 6.5% decrease in funding. That means $48,000 less each year.
Two years ago, the program served 600 home delivered meals a day, now they're down to 500 with a growing waiting list.
They also serve 400 meals each day to the city's senior centers.
81-year-old Eldon Gearheart and his 77-year-old wife, Joyce, say its their main meal each day, and without it, they may be eating canned soup. "We don't eat a lot of breakfast, but we eat this new meal, and then we'll have a little snack at night," explained Eldon.
That's the routine, 3 years and counting now. They had to spend some time on a waiting list before getting on the program. Both call it essential.
"We was very thankful for it, very thankful," said Eldon. "Oh yeah, because we have a limited income," Joyce chimed in.
The Gearhearts say for more reasons than one this meal is often the highlight of their day.
"She comes through the door with a smile and we just look forward to it, she brings some sunshine with her," said Eldon of their regular delivery driver. For those living alone, it may be their only contact with another person all day.
Meals on Wheels has not had to cut current clients, they began planning for budget cuts in advance and cut their lists by attrition. That has made the waiting list longer and they have had to stop giving emergency help to people who would have previously qualified.
That maybe was a recent hospital discharge that had no family support what so ever, no in home services that quite frankly would not have a meal, while they're recuperating at home," said Lisa Oliver of Meals on Wheels.
Meals On Wheels representatives say what makes it worse, is this is not the only senior program affected. Joyce agrees. "It frustrates me to no end, because I can't get help with my medicine, I can't get help with this, I can't get help with that. I've been turned down for a wheelchair," she said.
The meals on Wheels program started taking community donations to help serve clients. It costs $122 a month to sponsor one person. $1440 can serve a person for a year.
For more information on helping, call 826-3150.
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