Organizations that provide meals to senior citizens are scrambling to figure out how to deal with recent budget cuts.
“It’s going to have an impact,” said John Glassman, executive director of Douglas County Senior Services. “We just don’t know how we are going to unravel this puzzle.”
His comments echoed those made by Martin “Marty” Kennedy, who was named acting secretary of aging by Gov. Mark Parkinson on Wednesday.
“We face a lot of challenges in our budget, and we’re trying to find ways to deal with that every day,” said Kennedy who had been serving as interim secretary after the departure of Kathy Greenlee, who was named by President Obama as assistant secretary for aging for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Kennedy and staff have been hearing over the past several weeks from elderly Kansans who are afraid of cuts in the senior nutrition program, which provides more than 3.5 million meals statewide per year.
Douglas County Senior Services was hit with a $15,000 or 7 percent cut this year, Glassman said.
The agency serves approximately 250 meals per day at five different sites during the week, and delivers meals on the weekend.
Lawrence Meals on Wheels delivers approximately 115 specific diet meals per day Monday through Friday.
The volunteer organization sustained an approximately 7 percent cut, too, said executive director Kim Culliss.
“This is the first time I’ve gotten a cut in funding,” Culliss said.
She said she hopes to make up the shortfall through more fundraisers, donations and grants. She said the organization has never turned down anyone who has wanted a meal.
Seniors in both programs are asked to make donations to help cover the cost of the meals.
Glassman and Culliss said the program is not only important because it serves meals, but it also provides personal contact, whether it is at a senior center or a person bringing a meal to someone who is homebound.
“For many of them, it’s the most important party of the day,” Glassman said.