Senior meals could face cuts under sequester
Updated: Tuesday, April 16 2013, 10:49 PM EDT
VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - West Michigan seniors could be hit hard by sweeping federal spending cuts known as the sequester.
Senior nutrition services is now facing a 5 percent cut before the end of the year.
That will impact the mobile meals program and congregate meals daily in southwest Michigan, including Van Buren, Cass, and Berrien Counties.
For many of these seniors, it's more than just a hot food delivery, but it may be the only friendly face they'll see all day.
And as funding continues to decrease, need is only increasing.
Now facing a five percent cut--or about 11,000 dinners--the Meals on Wheels program is struggling to survive.
In fact, it's already seen a 28 percent hit since 2009.
"In the best of times, we have to fundraise for the cost of half of every meal," said Linda Strohl, Executive Director for Meals on Wheels of Southwest Michigan.
Meals range from 9 to 15 dollars. The program is trying to raise $75,000 this year, to make sure all 170,000 meals are served to seniors in Van Buren, Berrien, and Cass Counties--a service some seniors say they don't know what they'd do without.
Those behind the program are determined to make sure not one meal is skipped, and are now turning to private donors in case they do feel fallout from federal sequestration.
At this point, state and federal funding covers about $5 of each of those meals.
Next year, the 5 percent funding cuts have already been approved federally, but the state may kick in some extra money.
As for this year, it's still up in the air.