Mar 01 2013

HuffPost: Sequestration Cuts Will Stall Meals On Wheels

Helen Becker of Northampton, Pa. has received a hot meal from volunteers with Meals On Wheels of Northampton County every day for the past several years.

“That’s the biggest part of my diet, having the cooked meal,” Becker, 89, said in an interview. On Mondays it might be rotisserie baked chicken with yams, Tuesdays maybe spaghetti with meatballs accompanied by half a cup of applesauce and a dinner roll. And so on, every weekday at lunchtime.

The whole routine is now in doubt, thanks to budget cuts known as “sequestration” that are scheduled to kick in on Friday. The policy will deliver a 5.1 percent cut to a broad range of federal programs, including those under the Administration on Aging, which since 1972 has provided federal funds for senior nutrition programs.

“If they try and cut it I don’t know what’s going to happen to all these people that get it, especially somebody like me and all the others,” Becker said.

Exactly how many fewer meals seniors will receive and whether Becker will be affected remain unclear. The Obama administration says 4 million meals will be lost. The Meals On Wheels Association of America, an umbrella group for some 5,000 local organizations nationwide distributing a million meals a day, estimates the cuts will have an even bigger effect: 19 million fewer meals.

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