SAN ANTONIO – Meals on Wheels delivers nearly a million meals a year to elderly people in Bexar County, and it’s one of the many programs that will face cuts if we go into sequestration.
That’s the term for the huge, automatic budget cuts that will be imposed for the next ten years unless Congress takes action by Friday.
Meanwhile, the group that delivers all those meals on wheels is bracing itself for those cuts.
Christian Senior Services gets more than $1.5 million a year from federal grants. If any of that money gets cut, it’s like tipping the dominoes for seniors across the area.
“This is your meal for today,” volunteer Sherri Redmond says to an elderly man on her route.
Redmond says you can’t put a price on what the hot meal means to a senior.
"If I was young, it doesn't mean much,” the man says. “But now I'm 95. That means a lot."
But it does cost Christian Senior Services millions to prepare and deliver thousands of meals a day, so if there would be drastic consequences if the center loses a big chunk of its funding.
"We're looking at a reduction of something like 8,500 to 9,000 meals a year,” executive director Sharon Baughman says.
She says she hopes the country can avoid the budget cuts, but they now seem inevitable.
"Just the idea of cutting everybody a set percentage, to me it doesn't make a lot of sense,” Baughman says. “It's not fair. You have to look at who needs the programs the most. Who are the most vulnerable?"
And she says the most vulnerable of seniors could no longer live in their homes if there are not enough meals to go around.
"That's really bad for people like me,” another senior on Redmond’s route says. “I can't cook because I can't stand up very long."
Baughman worries a lot of people would be forced to move into nursing homes and those can be very expensive.
She says if sequestration happens, Christian Senior Services would have to put more restrictions on who is eligible to get meals on wheels.