Council members & seniors urge continuation of Meals on Wheels program

Council members & seniors urge continuation of Meals on Wheels program (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Budgetary extravagance or nutritional necessity?

That's the battle now about Meals on Wheels which provides food to thousands of senior citizens in the Tri-State area and more than two million nationwide. One meals on wheels recipient is not alone in how he feels about the program. Dennis Combs delivers food to a senior citizens high rise in Avondale, Specifically to one senior, 63-year-old Steven Garner who has diabetes. His many medications were lined up on a counter.

Delivery man Combs was with Wesley Community Services, a Meals on Wheels provider. Monday, March 20, council members Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson were there too. They do a visit every year but with Meals on Wheels potentially in the budgetary cross hairs of President Donald Trump, the council members and Wesley services leaders said more was at stake.

Ericka Dansby with Wesley Community Services said, "The funding we're talking about today is a huge part of our budget. Without that funding we wouldn't be able to serve the 2,500 clients that we serve every year."

The meals and snacks are based on each client's individual needs.

Meals on Wheels client Steven Garner of Avondale said, "If Wesley didn't service me I'd be in trouble because every four hours I need something in my system. I have to take my blood sugar and that regulates what I eat."

Garner was just one tiny piece of the national budgetary debate but he may speak for many.

There is no federal budgetary line item for Meals on Wheels so the president's budget does not directly cut those dollars. However, the president does want to eliminate Community Development Block grants and that's where some places get Meals on Wheels funding. In the Tri-State area the money comes from a different federal source so the whole thing was kind of uncertain until the final federal budget proposal comes out later in 2017.

There are several Meals on Wheels providers in the region. The largest is Cincinnati Area Senior Services, which delivers 1,200 meals a day. That added up to more than 300,000 meals in 2016.

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