Being a “yesterday’s kid” I am interested in the Federal budget. I want to know what the elected ones are doing for senior citizens and I want to know what they are taking away from our over 60 crowd. There have been cuts to programs for the elderly. There will be additional cuts in the future. During the year 2013, 5.1 percent cut to an broad range of federal programs including those under the Administration on Aging which since 1972 has provided federal funds for the senior nutrition programs. Obama stated that 4 million meals will be lost nationally. This article is addressing the over all problems not just locally. Nationally is addressed first followed by the Meals on Wheels program in our community.
Meals on Wheels has taken a financial hit. Briefly Meals on Wheels is a vital nutritional program that serves nutritious meals to seniors in community centers for ambulatory citizens and in the home five days a week for the socially isolated citizens. Meals on Wheels serves the needs of 25 million over 60 who are poor. Meals on Wheels is more than a community nutritional program it also provides social interaction for the over 50 crowd with other seniors. This vital program is the life line for struggling seniors. After a warm lunch seniors can stay at the community center and play cards and/or games. Social interaction is vital for the over 50 persons. They require the mental stimulation and friendship.
What does the financial cuts mean? The number of staff has been cut. The staff working hours has been cut which increases the waiting time for meals and deliveries have been cancelled. Intake for new applicants for services has been reduced and/or eliminated in some areas. The number of meals served on a daily basis has been cut.
Mesquite has a Recreation Center and Senior Center that is vital to the social life in our town. I spoke to Nick Montoya at the Recreation Center and received the following statistics. Money for Nevada’s Meals on Wheels program comes from a Federal Grant. The Feds give the money to the State of Nevada and each community submits a budget or request to the state for their community’s share of the Grant money.
For the months of January to March the senior center in Mesquite served 9747 meals, 9072 meals where delivered to seniors who are home bound. These are the Monday to Friday meals. On Friday frozen meals are delivered in addition to the regular week day meals. These meals are for the week end of home bound seniors, 3492 frozen meals were delivered. Nick informed me that Mesquite has not cut the Meals on Wheels program. This is a tribute to the caring personnel at the Recreation Center and Senior Center.