Fiscal cliff: Federal cuts could end Meals on Wheels for 2,000 in Collier, Lee

In this file photo, a volunteer loads his car with meals in preparation for a Meals-on-Wheels run. Courtney Potter/staff

Photo by Courtney Potter/Staff

In this file photo, a volunteer loads his car with meals in preparation for a Meals-on-Wheels run. Courtney Potter/staff

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— Nearly 2,000 vulnerable seniors in Southwest Florida who rely on Meals on Wheels could lose the nutrition assistance in January if federal lawmakers don't avert the so-called fiscal cliff, program officials say.

The Older Americans Act faces an 8.2 percent cut of $67 million to its nutrition programs under automatic spending reductions if federal leaders don't reach an agreement by Dec. 31 on how to deal with the federal deficit. Nationwide, nearly 2 million seniors rely on nutrition assistance, mainly through Meals on Wheels.

"Florida could lose $7.8 million for Meals on Wheels," said Leigh Wade, executive director of Senior Choices of Southwest Florida, which operates nutrition services programs in the region.

That includes prepared and frozen meals delivered to seniors in their home and congregate dining where seniors go to a community center for meals, Wade said.

"We will be losing $566,000 if the fiscal cliff occurs," she said.

That means potentially 28,000 meals would be cut to nearly 2,000 seniors, and there could be reductions to other services, such as bathing assistance and respite care in their homes, Wade said.

"It's far-reaching," she said, adding that there would be some job losses and it would force changes to how family members of vulnerable seniors care for their loved ones.

"The reality is we will have to scale back services," she said. "It's hard to figure out where you start making cuts. Do you give only two baths a week? Instead of five meals a week, do you give only four?"

Not all Meals on Wheels programs receive federal dollars; several are operated by ministries and charitable groups that rely on private donations and grants. That's the case for the Community Cooperative Ministries Inc. in Lee County and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Collier County.

"We dodged that," Laura Meyer, director of Community Cooperative, said of programs that get money through the Older Americans Act. "We get United Way money and some grants but no federal grants."

That's the upside of being privately funded, but Meyer said most seniors don't know the specifics of who pays for their "Meals on Wheels" and they could start feeling anxious if lawmakers don't reach a deal soon on tax rates and spending for 2013 and beyond.

Right now, few vulnerable seniors seem to know what could be in the works, she said.

"I don't think they are aware this is happening. We are not getting phone calls," she said.

But there likely would be a ripple effect to privately funded programs, which would see new requests for help from those displaced by the federal programs, said Wade of Senior Choices.

On top of that, there's already a waiting list now.

"That's a trend that's going to continue," Wade said. "This is our reality. We've kind of seen the writing on the wall."

According to the Meals on Wheels Association of America, more than 10,000 people turn 60 every day, and that will double to 70 million by 2030.

Since the beginning of the recession in 2007, there's been a 34 percent increase in the number of seniors who face hunger, according to the association.

Carol Harris, who operates St. Vincent de Paul's meals program for seniors in Collier, said she wasn't aware of potential cuts to the Older Americans Act. The St. Vincent's program doesn't get federal money.

"It's horrible," she said, referring to what some other Meals on Wheels programs could face. "A lot of who we deliver to are on disability."

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 8

1Paradiselost writes:

Republicans make all kinds of noise about death panels. But instead would rather starve grandma and grandpa.

Never judge someone by there words... Judge them by their actions.

It's not a sin to be wealthy.. but is a sin to die wealthy!

RayPray writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Republicans make all kinds of noise about death panels. But instead would rather starve grandma and grandpa.

Never judge someone by there words... Judge them by their actions.

It's not a sin to be wealthy.. but is a sin to die wealthy!

"It's not a sin to be wealthy.. but is a sin to die wealthy!"

>>> Isn't it God who determines what is a sin?

>>> Fortunately, the Constitution stipulates a firm separation of church & state!

"Never judge someone by there words... Judge them by their actions"

>>> Lucky for you, here are IRS instructions how you can make a personal gift to reduce Federal debt:

"How do you make a gift to reduce debt held by the public?
If you wish to do so, make a check payable to “Bureau of the Public Debt.” You can send it to: Bureau of the Public Debt, Department G, P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. Or you can enclose the check with your income tax return when you file."

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/pitchin...

>>> Don't be too shy to let us know how big a check you plan to send....

1Paradiselost writes:

Ray....

"It's not a sin to be wealthy.. but it is a sin to die wealthy!" Pastor Rick Warren said that last week. God?

So you like the idea of starving someones grandmother or grandfather?

Just In the past week (Christmas) you support FREE armed guards in schools.

You would like to see the end of Americas TSA program. You like the idea of wing nuts flying airplanes into buildings because it might cost you 10 cents in taxes.

I'm sure that's a big hit with the visitors who have traveled here reading this now.

This is a joke right?

I think we all know your type.. Do you still have your communion/bar mitzvah money?

When you open your wallet do moths fly out or does Washington blink or both?

RayPray writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Ray....

"It's not a sin to be wealthy.. but it is a sin to die wealthy!" Pastor Rick Warren said that last week. God?

So you like the idea of starving someones grandmother or grandfather?

Just In the past week (Christmas) you support FREE armed guards in schools.

You would like to see the end of Americas TSA program. You like the idea of wing nuts flying airplanes into buildings because it might cost you 10 cents in taxes.

I'm sure that's a big hit with the visitors who have traveled here reading this now.

This is a joke right?

I think we all know your type.. Do you still have your communion/bar mitzvah money?

When you open your wallet do moths fly out or does Washington blink or both?

"we all know your type."

>>> Your type is the blowhard generous only spending other peoples' money.

'bar mitzvah money?"

>>> ad hominem time for a little anti-antisemitism?

>>> Don't be bashful telling us how much of your own cash you are sending to help the starving stick figures of our Food Stamp nation.

"This is a joke right?"

>>> No, You are the joke.

RayPray writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"All popes and Cardinals die as millionaires."

>>> But live as con-men, legacy hunters & sodomites.

"Give the holy roman catholic church the money, your soul is honey, the church needs your money!"

>>> True, but applies equally to all our 'great' faiths.

"Pastor Rick Warren"

>>> Some obese tax protected homophobe

>>> What is religion but fairy tales oleaginously purveyed to adults to separate them for a tenth of their wealth?

RayPray writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Republicans make all kinds of noise about death panels. But instead would rather starve grandma and grandpa.

Never judge someone by there words... Judge them by their actions.

It's not a sin to be wealthy.. but is a sin to die wealthy!

"Never judge someone by there words... Judge them by their actions."

No starving for Kinnock Biden....

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/o...

1Paradiselost writes:

GOP the party of NO...

For Boehner propose a bill that his members won't support, and watch McConnell filibuster his own proposal, This is leadership? Or is this walking us as a nation over the cliff?

I have idea for the Democrats. When they take control of the house after the 2014 elections. They should pass a new law.

That law would impeach any congressman or senator for treason who does not do what's best for this country.

GOP = Great Obstructionist Party!!!

BTW Ray.... Staying on point, You never told us why you want to starve grandma and grandpa. Oh wait, I am sorry you did.

You still have your first dime from the tooth fairy.

RayPray writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

GOP the party of NO...

For Boehner propose a bill that his members won't support, and watch McConnell filibuster his own proposal, This is leadership? Or is this walking us as a nation over the cliff?

I have idea for the Democrats. When they take control of the house after the 2014 elections. They should pass a new law.

That law would impeach any congressman or senator for treason who does not do what's best for this country.

GOP = Great Obstructionist Party!!!

BTW Ray.... Staying on point, You never told us why you want to starve grandma and grandpa. Oh wait, I am sorry you did.

You still have your first dime from the tooth fairy.

Tax-eating parasite Government GS panjandrums like you create no productive jobs, produce no products anyone would desire without some substantial subsidy, then cozily retire down here with generous health benefits & indexed pension and, because you happen to own a couple stocks or mutual funds, strut around pretending you are some kind of daring entrepreneur, when, in truth, you get bailed out of whatever mistakes you make by the bountiful taxpayer check that shows up every couple weeks.

"impeach any congressman or senator for treason...."

Here is the country you wet-dream of living in:

http://www.korea-dpr.com/

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