How sequestration affects Texoma senior meal programs

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TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA -- To see one way these national cuts could affect our area, Nicolette Schleisman spoke with two organizations that serve Texoma seniors.

The latest estimates show nutrition programs for seniors could be cut by over $40 million dollars nationwide.

I spoke with both Meals on Wheels of Texoma and the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program on what that lost funding could mean for the people they serve.

With no deal reached in Washington on the sequester, people at home are starting to wonder how it will affect them.
Especially seniors, who rely on a hot meal provided to them by organizations like the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program.

"It's hard to do without them. We need em! We don't need the cuts. We need these hot meals every week," said Vowell Possey, who uses Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program.

Both the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program and Meals on Wheels say they don't know exactly how much these cuts could affect the seniors who rely on them, but they are able to make an estimate.

Oklahoma could be facing a statewide cut of nearly $300,000.

"It could cut the meals served. We could possibly cut one day a week serving and we serve quite a few homebounds or meals on wheels. And some of the sites may have to be cut," said Joyce Thompson.

Joyce Thompson is the site manager for the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program in Durant. She says everyone is concerned about the looming cuts.

"It might be the only hot meal they have during the day," said Thompson.

While Oklahoma is concerned about possible sites being shut down, Meals on Wheels is worried about something else.

"The real problem we've seen is our funding is not that so much has been cut, it's remained flat. But we have seen a drastic increase in demand for the service," said Greg Pittman, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Texoma.

Meals on Wheels released this statement: "This could mean as many as 19 million fewer meals served nationally." But Greg Pittman says the cuts in Texas will be less drastic, thanks to the Department of Aging and Disability services.

They have saved up enough money to make the 5% in federal cuts feel like 2%, which means about 700 meals a year.

"We need our governments to be investing in these programs. These programs save tax payers dollars. We should not be cutting them. We should be investing in them," said Pittman.

The deadline for the sequestration is tonight at midnight.

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