Federal budget cuts mean fewer "Meals on Wheels" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Federal budget cuts mean fewer "Meals on Wheels"

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Meals on Wheels is a lifeline for many homebound seniors to have a quality meal delivered right to their door.  But big federal budget cuts are now forcing the Heritage Agency on Aging in Cedar Rapids to scale back its Horizons Meals on Wheels program.

Two hundred volunteers take time every day to help deliver food to seniors and the disabled for Horizons Meals on Wheels in Linn, Johnson, Cedar, Iowa, Benton, Jones and Washington Counties.

But one major ways this program gets funded, the Older Americans Act, is seeing its funding slashed, resulting in 47,000 fewer meals going out their doors.

"It's heartbreaking to tell somebody that they don't qualify and to know that they may or may not be able to find another source for that food," said Dianna Young with Horizons Meals on Wheels.

Horizons has worked hard to ensure no client loses the meal service completely.  But many folks will go from getting three meals a day, to just one.  The agency's determined where to make the cuts by determining the level of need for each person.

"We've really had to look at our client base, and we've had to develop tools to determine who is the most nutritionally frail, who is the most isolated in lacking those support systems, such as family or friends or neighbors that can go and get groceries and other sources of food for them," said Young.

Fewer meals means fewer trips to each home, and meal deliveries often serve as a vital safety check, especially during the hot summer and cold winter months.

Horizons is doing its best to make due with fewer resources, while actively fundraising and applying for grants.  That will help prevent further cuts so Horizons can continue feeding the need.

There is a continuing concern that more budget cuts could come in the future, since the Older Americans Act money that pays for Meals on Wheels is included in Congress' discretionary funding.

The Heritage Agency on Aging is always looking for donations and volunteers to help support its programs.  To learn more about helping, call (319) 398-3574.

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