Seniors say they'll miss Horizons meal sites when they close - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Seniors say they'll miss Horizons meal sites when they close

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HIAWATHA (KWWL) - Every week, senior citizens come to the Hiawatha Community Center for group activities like dancing and bingo.

Before the fun, Horizons Meals on Wheels provides a hot lunch.

"To me, it isn't just a place to go have a meal," said Sherry Brewer, who lives in Hiawatha. "It's the socialization, because I'm a very social person and I think that these folks need the socialization as much as they need the meal."

Those meals are ending soon.

Congregate meal sites, or places where Meals on Wheels are delivered, are one of the two ways Meals on Wheels provides food to seniors. The other is home delivery.

The Horizons program is facing a $200,000 budget cut, forcing them to reduce service. Home delivery will stay, but several congregate meal sites will close.

"Considering who would be able to get out and get other sources of food, we had to make hard decisions to close some of the congregate sites," said Dianna Young, Meals on Wheels director.

Seniors contribute to the cost of their meal, adding to the money coming from the Older Americans Act. Those donations from seniors decreased in recent years.

"These folks are having to worry about their medical bills, their prescription drugs," said Young. "Their utility bills that have gone up. So for them, they've had to make hard choices."

Some seniors say their budgets will be OK, but they'll miss the time to talk.

"I like the people that come here," said Marcia Parmenter, who lives in Marion. "It's a good way to talk to them."

The hot meals stop at the end of the month -- though the activities, like dances, will continue.

Horizons is working on ways to continue providing meals for the seniors during their activities. The key difference will be cost.

Instead of a donation, seniors will be asked to pay for the food. Lunches are expected to cost about $3.50.

Congregate sites in Ely, Marion, Springville and one of the Cedar Rapids locations will also close. Officials say donations can help prevent more cuts.

To donate, click here: http://www.horizonsfamily.org/Content/What-Can-I-Do/Donate-Now.aspx
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