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Austin Meals On Wheels Braces For Sequestration Cuts
For 83-year-old Bernice Cheeks Meals on Wheels is a lifeline. For the last year the non-profit in Austin has delivered one hot meal to her home every day.
"I really cherish meals on wheels. I look forward to seeing them every day,” Cheeks said. "I depend on them 100 percent."
To keep her strength up, her doctor insists Bernice eats at least one proper meal a day, but the good nutrition she needs could be in jeopardy. Meals on Wheels would take a huge hit if the mandated federal budget cuts take effect on Friday.
"It is scary," Cheeks said. "I see so many people that need help; maybe more than me."
CEO Dan Purett said Meals on Wheels is bracing for a $180,000 funding cut, which translates in to 80,000 fewer meals made each year.
"If sequestration happens it's going to have a direct impact on the people we serve who are home-bound, elderly, and folks with disabilities," Purett said. "People will go hungry in our community if that happens."
Purett said budget cuts won't affect the criteria for meal eligibility, but people on the waiting list could wait even longer to receive meals.
"Absolutely, I think it's unfair to make cuts on the back of elderly folks," Purett said.
Currently, Meals on Wheels' meal program is budgeted for $4 million annually, and federal funding is about $2 million of that total.
By Cassie Gallo