Meals on Wheels programs worried about budget cuts

It's a program that feeds thousands of homebound residents in our area.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Claudine spends almost all of her day at home. She has muscular dystrophy, and it is difficult to even maneuver around her living room.

“My back muscles are gone. I can't stand up,” said Claudine, who did not want to give her last name.

Five days a week, Claudine receives food from Meals on Wheels volunteers.

“I don't know what I would do. I don't go grocery shopping anymore. My sister does that for me. I would be in a mess without Meals on Wheels,” she said.

The Mid-East Area on Agency on Aging provides 2,300 meals each day in four counties: St. Louis, Jefferson, Franklin and St. Charles.

“And that's just a drop in the bucket. There are many more people that we're not reaching. The issue has been that our funding has not increased since our population has increased,” said Mary Schaefer, the agency’s executive director.

Schaefer said the MEAAA is facing $200,000 in cuts from the state, and possibly more from the federal government, under President Trump’s proposed budget.

“They are projecting a 17 percent cut, which would be huge for us, $400,000 to $500,000, if those funds are cut,” Schaefer said.

A reduction in funds could mean fewer people receive meals. Schaefer said the MEAAA is trying to raise awareness of the need. An event on Tuesday, Big Meals on Wheels, partnered volunteers with high school students and community leaders.

“We wanted to get awareness out,” said John Sheehan, the Senior Vice President at CBS Radio. “If we volunteer, we could show others they have time to volunteer as well.”

Volunteers say it’s not just about a meal. For some recipients, a visit from Meal on Wheels might be their only contact with another person all day.

“I don't know what we would do without volunteers,” Claudine said.

While the MEAAA receives a large portion of its budget from the state and federal governments, other Meals on Wheels programs are funded differently. 

For information, visit them online.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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