The sequester flattens Meal on Wheels

Posted at: 02/27/2013 11:13 AM
Updated at: 02/27/2013 6:20 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Delivering food to people who are home bound. It's a service that is facing cuts if the sequester goes into effect Friday.  Should this kind of service be cut to balance the federal budget? Part of it will if nothing happens by Friday.

The sequester is the automatic federal spending cuts that take effect Friday if Congress doesn't vote to stop them. News10NBC has been trying to show you what it means on a real life, human level in our community.

The sequester is $85 billion in cuts and it's a cut of $20,000 to Monroe County Meals on Wheels. That means 4,000 fewer meals for seniors citizens who rely on them.

The food goes around in the front seat. They try to keep the hot stuff hot on cold days. It warms your heart when you see it delivered to the front door.

Brian Slingerland is a volunteer. He's visiting Walter Hutchinson. If the sequester goes through, Meals on Wheels loses $20,000, that pays for 4,000 meals. That means something to Brian and Mr. Hutchinson.

Brian Slingerland, Meals on Wheels volunteer, said, “It's scary to think some of those services could be cut.”

Walter Hutchinson said, “I would like to eat less, I’d like to keep on going as I am but I’m getting by very nicely with the service.”

Phil Shippers is the Director of Meals on Wheels. The back up plan is not to cut people from their list, but cut the number of times they go to their homes every week. That creates another problem.

Phil Shippers, Meals on Wheels, said, “What happens though is when we make fewer deliveries is we miss out on that daily safety check which we know is so important.”

Senator Chuck Schumer blamed republicans, but News10NBC pressed him on why things that help average, everyday people would be cut.

Senator Chuck Schumer said, “I don't think sequester is a good idea at all. I think it should be avoided at all costs. Meals on Wheels is one casuality, there are many more. The best way to avoid it is to close some of the tax loop holes.”

If he had a chance to talk to the politicians Brian Slingerland says he'd tell them about the negative impact of cuts to Meals on Wheels.

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, “Do you think they hear that message?”

Slingerland said, “I hope they hear that message and I think if enough people voice their concerns about it they'll have no choice but to hear that message.”

One way they're going to handle the cut is to stop accepting people into the program. The waiting list for Meals on Wheels in Monroe County is 150. The sequester cuts will make that bigger.