Updated 02/11/2013 03:16 PM
Meals on Wheels keeps seniors independent
For aging seniors, programs like Meals on Wheels make it possible for many of them to continue living independently. But the program is facing major budget cuts. As our Katie Gibas tells us, program leaders are hoping a new Brown University study prevents that from happening.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Shirley David doesn't cook anymore. Because of her wheelchair, it's hard for her to reach the stove, a lesson she learned the hard way a couple years ago.
"The pan that I was cooking the bacon in, I didn't have it far enough on the stove, and I could see it falling, and I tried to catch it, and it just tipped over on my hand and leg. And I said, 'That's it. No more,'" said Shirley David, a Syracuse Meals on Wheels recipient.
Shirley's story is a common one among the million seniors Meals on Wheels serves every day. Thanks to the program, Shirley is still able to live independently.
A recent Brown University study found that states that spend more money on home delivered meal programs have fewer low-care seniors, like Shirley, in nursing homes.
"I want to do for myself. And I don't want anybody feeling sorry for me," said David.
Mason Kaufman, the Meals on Wheels Executive Director added, "It is important and it also tells us that investment in nutritional meals, programs like ours, are going to save money."
Meals on Wheels officials say they hope this study will encourage financial support from the state and federal government. But they say, over the past few years, they've been seeing the exact opposite.
"This Older Americans Act funding has to be reauthorized annually, and it hasn't been for this year. And it is also discretionary funds that will be part of the sequestration cuts. So if we do not get a budget this year, if Congress does not pass a budget, we're going to se a five percent cut in that funding," said Kaufman.
As for Shirley David, she hopes legislators will hear her pleas to keep supporting the program that keeps her at home.
"It's very important because you're getting a balanced meal, and you don't have to worry about fixing something to eat because I know the meals are coming, and I'm sitting here waiting," said David.
Waiting...because she knows every day, two volunteers will be delivering more than just a meal.
State and federal funds make up about 60 percent of individuals Meals on Wheels serves.
Meals on Wheels officials say their program also wouldn't be possible without the hundreds of volunteers preparing and delivering the food every day.