Less Money for Seniors: NC Lawmakers Budget Cuts - myfoxcarolinas.com

Less Money for Seniors: NC Lawmakers Budget Cuts

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Charlotte, N.C. (WJZY) -- How many meals do you eat a day? Three?

Try cutting that down to one.

How would you feel if that one meal was taken away because North Carolina lawmakers decided not to pay for it.

This is just one example of what could happen to seniors if the NC Senate budget - Appropriations Act 2014 - is passed by the House and signed by the Governor.

We speak with seniors who depend on government programs to get by.

85 year old Dolores Foster spent her career teaching in the classroom.

"One time somebody asked me how many children I have and I said twenty-two. She said, that's impossible, you're not old enough to have twenty-two. Then I said, I mean I have twenty-two children in my class," said Dolores Foster.

Dolores was an elementary teacher in Connecticut for 38 years. She came to Charlotte to be close to the little family she has left.

"I ended up being the old lady in the cul de sac. The children were off in school, the buses were gone, the parents were off working. There I was. I didn't know anybody," said Dolores.

That's where Mecklenburg County's senior programs - including the free daily meal - come in.

"This became my savior. I sat down at a table. I asked if anyone was sitting there. The lady said sit down. I'm still sitting at the same table," said Dolores.

Dolores is just one of hundreds who benefit from the the many senior programs.

"Congregate and home delivered meals, transportation services, senior services, and senior daycare," said Kajal Patel with Mecklenburg County's Social Services.

The North Carolina Senate budget cuts some funding for programs that makes this possible.

"Seniors won't get a healthy meal, they will not have the opportunity to socialize, and they will have fewer opportunities to participate in the wellness programs," said Kajal.

The budget still needs to be approved by the House and signed by the governor before it becomes law.

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Here are also some notes from Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services:

"The Senior Citizens Nutrition program is funded through a combination of County, HCCBG funds and a small amount of USDA reimbursement.

Home and Community Care Block Grant funds are allocated to each County by the State Division of Aging and Adult Services, based on census data on the number of older adults who reside in each county. The services that are funded through this grant include homebound and congregate meal programs, adult daycare, in home aide services, transportation services and senior centers. The purpose of these services is to support older adults in the community and allow them to remain safe and independent in their own homes.

Block grant monies have been cut the past few years as a result of funding cuts and sequestration from the state and the federal govn’t.

In 2012, Mecklenburg County received a total of $3,085,966 in block grant funding for all the services described above. In FY 14, that amount was reduced to $2,965,223. So we have already experienced a 4% reduction.

Reduced funding means we cannot serve the number of people who need the service in the community. By not providing preventative services, older adults become at risk for being unsafe, unhealthy and socially isolated. It can also equate to them requiring a higher level of care which in turn is more costly."

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