Meals on Wheels program in financial trouble after budget cuts - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Meals on Wheels program in financial trouble after budget cuts

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Hundreds of elderly citizens are going hungry in the valley. Meals on Wheels is dangerously low on funds due to government cutbacks.

The program is responsible for getting food to thousands of elderly citizens everyday, but now may not be able to fulfill its duties.

Local organization Direct Service Corporation provides help to the elderly in 16 Georgia counties, but after $200,000 was cut from its budget in October, daily food delivery service Meals on Wheels is struggling to stay afloat.

86-year-old Paul McKinnon and his wife 79-year-old Sarah look forward to their Meals on Wheels delivery every morning. With various medical ailments, they stay mostly indoors except to make doctor's visits.

The program allows the couple to interact with others and get the nutrition they need daily.

"I would've gotten by, but it's a lot easier with that," says Sarah when asked what she would do without the meals.

In Georgia, budget cuts are affecting 3,000,000 meals to elderly citizens. In Columbus there are 258 people on the waiting list to become Meals on Wheels recipients, but DSC Executive Director Mickey Tucker says they just can't afford to add new people.

"Before, as soon as we lost somebody we would replace them," says Tucker, "but now we haven't been able to replace anybody this year."

So far the program has lost 51 meal recipients. Tucker says they're still over-budget even after layoffs and cutting his employees' hours.

Meals on Wheels worker Kim Prescott says she doesn't want to have to cut more people from their list. "I can't imagine myself even sending a letter out to these people telling them that we can't help them anymore," she says.

To raise awareness about their needs, Prescott used her skills as a singer/songwriter to create a music video for Youtube entitled "The Forgotten One."

"This is the worst we've ever seen," says Prescott, "and I just couldn't sit back and not do anything."

So far the video has helped bring in some volunteers and donations, but it's nowhere near enough to cover the costs.

Tucker says, "They took care of people for years, and they were productive for years. Now they've reached the age, or health condition, to where they can't, so it's our turn to pay them back, and unfortunately I don't like the way we're paying them back."

Tucker says the donations are welcome, but if you really want to help, call your congressmen and ask for change.

To watch "The Forgotten One," click here.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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