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Federal cuts hit meals program for Taylor County seniors

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Apr 25 2013 06:24:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 26 2013 12:43:26 PM CDT
TYE, Texas -

Many are already feeling the impact of the federal government's automatic budget cuts. One program close to home that has been hit especially hard is the Rural Taylor County Aging Services meals program.  

The program provided almost 300,000 meals to seniors over the last year. Several of them come to community centers, but the majority live at home.

The program is facing a cut of up to $100,000 this October. That's on top of other cuts that have already taken effect, and it could have devastating consequences.

"For the majority of our home-delivered, they are low-income and so it may mean that they don't eat that day," said Michelle Parker, director of community programs for the Area Agency on Aging. 

The program provides seniors more than a hot meal.

"Some of these seniors only see us, is all they see once a day, and without these meals a lot of them couldn't even live at home, they'd have to move in to nursing homes," said Jeanina Cochran, who has been cooking for the meals program for 36 years. 

"I would miss it – and I’m sure everyone here would, especially my husband. He would stay at home and do practically nothing with other people if it wasn't for getting out here. He enjoys the fellowship," said Connie Selden, one of the seniors who receives meals at the Tye Community Center. 

Employees of the program are struggling as well. Equipment and vehicles are too expensive to replace.

"I’ve got a steamer that is broke down right now that we can't afford to have fixed," Cochran said. "Every year a little bit's cut here, and a cut there, and you know it’s just got to where now we're cut so bad we just barely scrape by."

In the end, the cuts may even dig into taxpayer’s wallets. 

"If you look at this thing from a financial standpoint, it's going to affect you and me the taxpayer. We're looking at pennies on the dollar for this type program in relation to these senior citizens and disabled individuals having to go to a nursing home or extended care living program," said Dave Perry, meals program director. 

The meals program accepts donations by mail at:

WCTCOG-AAA

ATTN: Michelle Parker

3702 Loop 322

Abilene, TX 79602

Or by phone at:

Michelle Parker
Director of Community & Human Services Programs
West Central Texas Council of Governments
Area Agency on Aging
Aging and Disability Resource Center
325-672-8544