The federal budget cutbacks known as sequestration has led to the scaling down of many programs that are designed to help South Carolinians in need. That includes the loss of approximately $791,000 in nutrition assistance for seniors, most notably for the Meals on Wheels program.
Sharon Seago, director of the Central Midlands Council of Governments Agency on Aging says her office is losing funds for the program designed to make sure that a number of seniors get at least one balanced meal a day. The agency serves Fairfield, Newberry, Lexington, and Richland counties.
“Were losing about $15,000 for home delivered meals, and were losing in group dining about $28,405 dollars.”
Seago says the price of meals vary in the different regions of each county her agency serves. However she estimates that about 3,000 meals would be lost region-wide. She adds that is significant when you consider that the program was still falling short of serving all the citizens that had requested the help even before the cuts.
“The vast majority of people are getting just one meal per day, just because we have waiting lists for people who are interested in receiving meals and need to receive meals,” Seago said, ”We can only offer two meals a day to a person under very special circumstances.”
Seago says it’s still too early to tell if the state and local governments will be able to fill the void of the funds that have been lost.
“I know the lieutenant governor has asked the legislature for additional funds, but we don’t know at this point if we will be getting those or if they meet the gap. We do not know how much it would be. We don’t know if the local governments will be able to fill in the gap; that’s an unknown right now.”