Problems Loom for Meal Programs Amidst Government Shutdown
ATLANTA (WAOK/AJC) — After losing upwards of 15% of their funding due to across-the-board federal spending cuts that occurred earlier this year, the Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center, which provides daily lunches to Meals on Wheels clients, and numerous other organizations such as Senior Connections may find themselves unable to offer their services if the Government Shutdown is prolonged.
Providers of the meals have been asked to formulate plans to continue the dispersion of food, however CEO of Senior Connections Debra Furtado said that “I don’t want to be the person who decides, quite frankly, who eats and who doesn’t.” Senior Connections, a Chamblee-based nonprofit organization that provides home and community-based services, provides roughly 3,000 seniors in several counties with meals.
Ravae Graham, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Human Services, has stated that they are “monitoring everything” closely and funding for meals programs has been identified through October 15th. Kathryn Lawler, manager of the aging and health resources division at Atlanta Regional Commission said that there were no immediate plans to stop meal programs in the 10-county metro region, however the shutdown has caused a “day-to-day analysis”. Due to funding coming from multiple sources for the region, Lawler said there is no need for the ARC to cut services at this time, however that may not be the case for services outside of the region. The situation could become “very, very serious,” and if the shutdown is prolonged they will “have to figure out how to keep those meals coming every day”, with hope that churches and community enrichment and outreach groups step up to increase efforts to aide seniors.
Meal programs and services provide many seniors with the only meal that they will eat that day and Geraldine Roper, who has diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has received a daily meal from the Meals on Wheels Program for the last three years, fears that the government shutdown will affect her ability to get that meal. Not being able to receive a meal “would cripple me, I cant afford to go to the grocery store and buy things I need to eat.”
“We haven’t seen any immediate impact, however, a prolonged shutdown – two or three weeks- would result in a reduction or temporary elimination. It could be devastating” said Phillippa Moss, Director of the Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center. “Every little thing that happens in Congress makes our job difficult.”
Written by Sherman H. Smith Jr. (WAOK/Intern)