Programs That Help Seniors Feeling Sequestration
Sequestration is starting to bite into programs like Meals on Wheels that help the elderly. Some programs have waiting lists for the first time. And that has Central Florida programs scrambling for new funding sources.
[Meals on Wheels Etc. culinary team prepares lunches]
Meals on Wheels Etcetera in Sanford is one of many programs state-wide that provides meals and other services for senior citizens. But federal funding it receives through the Older Americans Act was cut in April and again in June because of sequestration. Executive Director Sherry Fincher said these programs are essential- because they allow seniors to stay in their homes at a cost of roughly 6-thousand dollars a year. “If that person had to go into a nursing home, the cost could run up to 80-thousand dollars a year, so it’s a real savings to taxpayers,” she said.
Fincher said their Neighborhood Dining program has a waiting list for the first time in 40-years. Sequestration has also forced cuts in other programs like transportation and home care. But Meals on Wheels Etcetera does have one advantage. It has its own commercial kitchen, which executive chef Delano Lambertclare has turned into a source of revenue with a catering service called Top Hat Catering. Lambertclare is now looking for other ways to let the kitchen and his expertise make money. “One of my things that I’m trying to push even more now is to do cooking classes here at the kitchen and also at people’s homes,” he said.
In Orange County, Seniors First Executive Director Marsha Lorenz said her program lost nearly 180-thousand dollars in the two cuts.. She said there are now more people on her home meal delivery waiting list than the program serves, and she had to close 5 Neighborhood Lunch Program sites. She said Seniors First is hoping to approach the county for help with finding extra resources.