March 31, 2013

Meals on Wheels feeling the pinch from sequestration cuts

A central Maine program is turning away applicants and cutting back to one visit per home per week.

By MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING / Morning Sentinel

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click image to enlarge

Waterville resident Marie Rouleau, 84, left, and Zandra Luce, a personal support specialist, work in the kitchen preparing a meal. Rouleau is on a waiting list for Meals on Wheels.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

However, "We have to stop adding more meals, because we don't have enough money," Silva said.

Even those seniors who continue to receive the service will feel the pinch, she said, because beginning Monday, the service is scaling back from two visits per week to just one, in which the volunteer will deliver one hot meal and four frozen ones.

Silva said the change will save money because the program reimburses volunteers for their mileage costs. Still, she said, for many homebound seniors, the volunteer visit amounts to a safety check that is as important as the food being delivered.

"It's hard for us to have to give up one of those visits," she said. "We understand we have no choice, so we're trying to do the best we can," Silva said.

The ironic thing, Silva said, is that cutting these services actually costs taxpayers more money in the long term, because a tax dollar spent providing support services to someone at home can prevent having to spend many tax dollars on providing full-time care to the same person in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility.

 

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at 861-9287 ot at:

mhhetling@centralmaine.com

 

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