At 96, Erv Bauer shows no signs of slowing down, but the former school principal and music teacher admits receiving food each day from the Meals on Wheels Program takes the stress out trying to prepare a nutritious dinner. So when he heard about possible cuts to the program, he couldn't believe it.
“99% are excellent. I would hate to think that I would have to go to a restaurant every day or have to make a meal by myself.”
Local agencies that handle Meals on Wheels, a program designed to provide food to seniors, say discussions about potential cuts to the program are not for the current year, but for the 2018 budget which starts in October.
“What is more significant is what is proposed in terms of 18% reduction to the Department of Health and Human Services and that's under which the Meals on Wheels program is funded, so if 18% is applied there will be significant cuts.”
Jim McGuire of the Area Agency on Aging 1-B says the public won't know about those cuts until late summer or fall. For now his agency is working to build awareness on the significance of the program.
“How many people we serve, how many people it keeps out of nursing homes.”
And how the program is much more than a food service.
“It's not uncommon for a provider to knock on the door and hear a call for help. Someone has fallen and can’t get up.”
McGuire says if cuts are made, the impact would be felt in several ways to thousands of clients that are served by the program.
“We may have to cut back to one meal a day for those who have no other options in the evening time or it could result in us closing the program to new participants.”
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Bauer says he hopes the Trump Administration and members of Congress will do the right thing.
“We need cuts. We know we need cuts. But not in the wrong places.”