Prairie Council on Aging making Meals on Wheels cuts, director blames state budget crisis

By Gary Scott on October 27, 2015 at 7:25am

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: a local agency is being forced by the state budget impasse to make program reductions.

This time, it’s the Prairie Council on Aging and its Bread of Love program.

PCOA director Nancy Thorsen says the program, which is part of Meals on Wheels, is 66-percent federally funded, but one-third of it comes from state funds. Starting next Monday, home-delivered meals will only be on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays in Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties.

Thorsen says it’s unfathomable that legislators would literally let seniors go hungry rather than pass a budget.

“Since no general revenue funds are flowing and there is no state budget to allow them to flow, we have to live within our means. We are being fiscally responsible by living within our means,” says Thorsen.

“It’s just heart-wrenching that [this is] on the backs of seniors who are in need. Not only does Meals on Wheels provide nutrition and medically-necessary food, but they provide a safety net. If you are visited every day Monday through Friday, there’s a kind of security, and it kind of breaks the isolation up,” she continues.

Thorsen notes another program traditionally considered under the Meals on Wheels umbrella, the privately-funded Doorbell Dinners, will not be affected.

Thorsen notes as Prairie Council on Aging has been dealing with a lack of a state budget for several months into the new fiscal year, there’s been a step-up of help locally to help them keep doing what they do.

“In some of our outlying areas, in Cass County in particular, we have had an outpouring from churches and other organizations, and Heritage Health is agreeing to- at a cost- provide meals, and these other organizations are putting them together and making sure seniors are getting fed, who otherwise would not. If there’s anybody in Morgan County that would like to step up and make that happen,” says Thorsen.

Thorsen also told us that the Prairie Council on Aging has had to close its offices on Wednesdays in both Carrollton and Jacksonville due to the budget impasse, and that unfortunately, the next step is layoffs.

For more information, you can call the PCOA office at 479-4619.