Levy ensures Wood County senior meals will continue PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Saturday, 16 March 2013 07:35
File Photo. Wood County Senior Center.
The Wood County Committee on Aging expects to weather a cut in federal funding - insuring that local home-bound seniors will continue to receive home-delivered meals.
The anticipated 10 percent cut is a result of the government's automatic sequester.
"We will not be creating waiting lists or cutting services" as may happen in other parts of the state or country, WCCOA Executive Director Denise C. Niese promised.
"We're going to be able to make it up some way," largely because "our board has been extremely conservative."
Almost as soon as the news came out that Congress and the president had failed to reach agreement on the budget impasse, leading to the automatic introduction of Sequestration 2013, staff at WCCOA began fielding queries from a concerned public.
"We've been receiving questions from our seniors as to what impact sequestration may have on WCCOA programs and services," Niese confirmed.
At least a dozen people raised the subject, "mostly the home-bound seniors who are worried about the home-delivered meals.
"I decided we needed to be proactive and allay any personal fears."
To that end, the agency has put out a formal press release saying, in part:
"As programs for older adults are in the news for potential cuts as a result of the Sequestration 2013, the Wood County Committee on Aging expects to weather the potential 10 percent cut" which will amount to approximately $28,600.  
A cut of that size "will result in 7,300 less meals subsidized by the federal dollar, as well as 240 fewer transports to medical appointments and grocery shopping."
In 2012, the Committee on Aging served more than 87,437 home delivered meals and 72,449 meals at the seven senior centers located within Wood County - at Bowling Green, Pemberville, Wayne, Bradner, Perrysburg, Rossford and Walbridge.  
In addition, more than 200 older adults were transported for a total of 5,040 one-way transports to medical appointments and to their local grocery stores.
Fortunately, the WCCOA will be able to make up for that $28,600 in lost federal funding.
"Wood County residents passed a renewal of a .7 mill levy for WCCOA programs and services in November 2011," said Joe Long, president of the Committee on Aging's Governing Board. He added that the local levy will enable WCCOA to continue meeting the nutritional needs of its home delivered meal consumers and the participants at the seven senior centers.
"WCCOA has managed our funds wisely and we anticipate weathering this sequestration without reducing our levels of service," Long added.  
Participants in both the home delivered meal program and those participating at the senior centers are asked for a $2 donation for each meal. The federal regulations of the Older Americans Act require that the donation is made confidentially and that no one is denied a meal for inability to contribute. Donations collected in 2012 for meals and transportation totaled $238,189.  These donations are used toward the cost of providing the nutrition and transportation services.
Niese pointed out that while "the whole sequestration thing is something unusual for all of us," there have been clues that things might possibly trend in that direction.
"We've been experiencing some cuts over the last couple years with our federal and state funds, so you always have to plan in case something happens," she said.
"We do have some discretionary dollars from that board-restricted endowment fund" supported by private donations that people have made. "We can access that should the need arise. That is always our safety net."
But the home-delivered meal clients "don't get out of the house. They're home watching CNN or another station" and the steady diet of increasingly alarming coverage of the sequestration clearly was causing unease.
"When our (meal) drivers started saying their clients were asking about it" it became time to offer a public reassurance.
For more information on services available to Wood County residents age 60 and over, contact the WCCOA at (419) 353-5661, (800) 367-4935, or visit the Web site at www.wccoa.net.

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