Among the eliminated programs are the Community Development Block Grant program, which helps fund Meals on Wheels, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, an initiative that funds Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents. Meals on Wheels delivers almost 130,000 meals to nearly 450 elders in our area. There are 500 individuals on the waiting list for meals in the two-county area. Senior Companions are healthy older adults who help other adults live independently. Without the help of Senior Companions, many older adults would not be able to continue living at home and would need more expensive, less personal care. Foster Grandparents give their experience and talent to help children develop the skills, confidence and strength to succeed in life. Children who need Foster Grandparents gain individual attention they might not otherwise receive, confidence, tutoring, advice and the life-changing opportunity to know the consistent love of a Foster Grandparent.
These proposed cuts widen the service gap between these proven programs and those who benefit from them. Meals on Wheels, for example, is already serving 23 million fewer meals now than in 2005, and waiting lists are mounting in every state. At a time when increased funding is needed, millions of seniors who rely on the program every day for a nutritious meal, safety check and visit from a volunteer will be left behind.
%u201CThese initiatives make sense not only from a compassionate perspective, but from a common-sense, fiscal one as well,%u201D said John Clark, President and CEO of Council on Aging of West Florida. %u201CThey give hope and real nutrition to those who are food-insecure among us. They allow older individuals to stay in their home and remain active in the community, while in the case of Foster Grandparents helping at-risk youth find purpose and the one-on-one attention they so desperately crave. Individuals who stay at home for a few dollars a day save more expensive programs like Medicaid and Medicare the cost of assisted living care at a rate of over a hundred dollars a day.%u201D
While eliminated or reduced programs that affect Council on Aging of West Florida directly are outlined below, many other funding sources that benefit seniors and enable them to live more secure lives are at risk, as well.
"Cuts to funding sources on which Meals on Wheels programs rely %u2013 coupled with the significant reductions proposed to SNAP, Medicaid, and other safety net programs for low-income Americans and people with disabilities %u2013 would exacerbate the widespread suffering already felt by millions of vulnerable seniors and put greater pressure on an already strained senior support infrastructure," said Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander in a statement.
Three Council on Aging of West Florida funding sources at risk (figures are national):
This budget is just a proposal and still needs Congressional approval, and thankfully many members of both parties have said that the cuts and reductions go too far. Council on Aging of West Florida looks forward to working with Rep. Matt Gaetz and Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson to advocate for our area%u2019s most needy while educating our elected officials on the challenges these older individuals face.
For more information about these programs, or to volunteer or donate, visit coawfla.org or call (850) 432-1475.
Council on Aging of West Florida is compliant with the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. Learn more at www.bbb.org.