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Sequester cuts could hurt Meals on Wheels, senior centers

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TYLER (KYTX) -

Funding cuts to the U.S. Administration on Aging's Elderly Nutrition Program could end up putting a financial squeeze on East Texas Meals on Wheels and on some senior centers that serve meals. Those cuts go into effect on March 1 unless the congress comes to a consensus on how to modify the plan that's already in effect.

One by one the Meals on Wheels volunteers took their food from a central kitchen Monday morning and headed out to make sure everyone on a list of 3,000 received a lunch.

Iris and Roger Daughtry drive three routes---and give several hours of their time-- rain or shine.

"Me and her do it on Mondays and then I do it on Tuesdays," Roger said. "And then me and her do it on Thursdays."

"You develop kind of like a connection with people," Iris said. "You know delivering a meal, you always say hi."

After two years of saying "hi" the people opening those doors have turned into friends. One of those friends is Pearline Williams who said she'd be eating cereal and milk if the Daughtrys couldn't make it.

"It's good for me to have a good meal," Williams said. "A balanced meal every day."

Back at headquarters they're still trying to figure out how to keep those meals coming after years of federal budget cuts.

"We've reorganized our staff, eliminated administrative costs," Meals on Wheels Executive Director Mike Powell said. "We've out-sourced our kitchen."

Powell said the hardest part is not knowing when the money disappears or how much will go. Statewide the number is $3.5 million, but until that gets divided up there's no way to plan ahead.

"We either will have to put clients on a waiting list for meals or we will have to raise additional local funds to cover those costs," Powell said.

Powell said, no matter what, Meals on Wheels is in good enough shape to keep those wheels rolling while they figure out what to do.

Click here to see the White House's explanation of Sequester-related funding cuts in Texas.

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