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Meals Program For Seniors Could Be Cut If Congress Does Not Act

Last year President Obama appointed a super committee which was asked to cut at least  $1.5 trillion from the federal budget or all discretionary program would automatically be cut by 10 percent.

Since they failed, Southwest Missouri Office on Aging says their programs – including “Meals on Wheels” – will be included in the automatic cuts. These cuts are to take place in January 2013, retroactive to October 2012.

SWMOA says this could mean a reduction of $300,000 in their budget.

The Ava Senior Center is asking the public to come by the center and sign a paper plate and write a note to their U.S. representatives and U.S. senators, asking them to not cut their program.

In the meantime, daily meals will continue to go out, but the center will prepare a “picnic” sack lunch one day a week in place of a hot meal. This alone will save thousands of dollars over the stretch of time.

The Senior Center is also asking for a voluntary increase in the contribution meal recipients pay for their meals on a daily basis, to help offset the cuts. It doesn’t sound like much, but an additional 5 cents for each of the 700,000 meals delivered annually would add up to $35,000 of additional help each year.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 established caps on discretionary spending over 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in cuts spread across defense and nondefense discretionary programs. The law also directed a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years.

The failure of this bipartisan committee to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan last fall triggered an automatic sequester to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013. To sequester means to set apart or to take something away until a debt has been repaid.

Advocates of the senior citizens programs are asked to contact their federal representatives, asking them to head off this sequestration by coming to agreement on deficit reduction measures.

For more information about how you can help the local meals program, contact Bonnie Evans at the Ava Senior Center, 683-5712.