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Mecklenburg Meals on Wheels program prepares for 9 percent budget hit
SoVaNow.com / March 06, 2013A local agency is anxiously eyeing the impact of federal budget sequester cuts on the Meals on Wheels program — which provides hot meals to a clientele of nearly 300 senior citizens in three counties, for some their only meal of the day.
Meals on Wheels is administered in Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Halifax counties by the Lake Country Area Agency on Aging, whose CEO, Gwen Hinzman, is preparing for a 9 percent effective cut to her budget. In dollar terms, the reduction amounts to some $50,000.
Hinzman said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Community Living, which oversee programs that her agency administers, including Meals on Wheels, “are taking every step to mitigate the effects of these cuts.” However, she added, the overall funding for the fiscal year for Older Americans Act Title III, Title VII, and Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP) grants — including Meals on Wheels — will likely be reduced.
Meals on Wheels is one of the NSIP programs that began in 1974 as part of the Older Americans Act. Using NSIP grant money, meals are provided on a regular basis to individuals age 60 and older who are in the greatest economic, physical, and social need.
“The bottom line,” said Hinzman, is that “we will feed as many people as we can in the three counties [Brunswick, Mecklenburg and Halifax], and at our five congregate meal sites” — meals are served in a group setting in Clarksville, Lawrenceville, Chase City, Halifax and Buffalo Junction — “but when the money runs out, we will be forced to shut down the programs.”
With officials still sorting out the effects of the sequester — and with the bulk of cuts still weeks and months away from being implemented — it is unknown when or if that day will arrive.
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