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Funding for Elder Care Services’ Meal on Wheels, could hang in the balance

For over 50 years, Elder Care Services has been serving seniors in the Big Bend.
Adrian Andrews
For over 50 years, Elder Care Services has been serving seniors in the Big Bend.

Last month, the U.S. House passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending

As the federal government’s looming debt ceiling raises concerns about federal cash flow, some local agencies like Elder Care Services are worried as well.

The agency is celebrating over 50 years of delivering food to seniors through its Meals on Wheels program.

This week, dozens of community and government leaders volunteered to cover the routes.

“We’re got ten meals that we will deliver today and as they were mentioning in the briefing, sometimes we’ll be the only person that a lot of these folks will see," said Keith Bowers, the director of the Florida Office of Economic Vitality. "It gives us an opportunity to share some love with them and just be smiling friendly faces and let them know we care.”

Elder Care provides assistance to 2,000 seniors a year and out of those, 400 are Meals on Wheels recipients. Which means a lot of dollars are needed.

Currently, the Older Americans Act of 1965 covers costly expenses including nutritious meals, daily visits, and safety checks.

Elder Care’s executive director Jocelyne Fliger worries if Congress's debt ceiling discussions impact their funding, it could have a negative effect on senior’s well-being and their families’ pockets too.

“I would hope people would see the heart impact of these programs but also these programs make fiscal sense as well," said Figer.

"If we’re able to check in on seniors and provide them nutrition each day, often times that would mitigate a more costly ER visit or nursing home placement. So besides having that feel good component, it is also a very fiscally responsible program.”

According to the Meals on Wheels national office, 5,000 local agencies currently receive a 35% share from the federal government. The rest comes from state or local entities, private donations or through grants.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.