Seniors Could Suffer Because Of Meals-On-Wheels Cuts - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Seniors Could Suffer Because Of Meals-On-Wheels Cuts

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by Adam Ghassemi

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Thousands of dollars in cuts have hit a local Meals-on-Wheels program that's in more than a dozen local counties. This could leave some seniors with no other options to get the food they need.

Even after 23-years, Debbie Willis is reminded of how much a meal can mean every time she makes a delivery.

"You just don't think that there are people here in our own community that don't have food to eat," she said Monday.

Frances Haskell, who will turn 99 in just a few months, is homebound and relies on Meals-on-Wheels to survive.

"It has been a Godsend to me," Haskell said. "I depend on that for one good meal a day."

Volunteers, in Murfreesboro alone, prepare roughly 180 meals every week day. They go to people who have to decide between eating and paying utility bills or getting prescriptions filled.

"Oh, it's so rewarding," said volunteer Madeline Methvin. "To know you're helping somebody else."

But deliveries, and even serving in senior centers, could now be at risk. All because of a word Willis had never heard before a few months ago: sequestration.

Cuts will leave the Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency, which operates the Meals-on-Wheels program in 13 Middle Tennessee counties, without $40,000 in federal funding. There is no indication of how long the sequester cuts will last.

Willis says that will mean less food and longer wait lists for seniors who already can't afford it.

"This is probably the worst experience in the whole job is to finally be able to call somebody and tell them that oh we can serve you now. But they've past away," she said.

Right now there are ten elderly Tennesseans on her wait list. That's not counting their other 12 service counties.

That's why Willis hoped lawmakers would get something worked out to not only give seniors food to survive, but people to love.

"I'm sorry I have to be a patient, not a volunteer," Haskell told Willis during a goodbye hug.

"I would have put you to work now," Willis responded while they both laughed before they each said "I love you."

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