POSTED: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 6:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 6:34pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Federal and state funding cuts are hurting senior citizens in Baton Rouge.
With an increased need for programs such as Meals on Wheels, the huge cuts to funding could leave hundreds hungry. Albertha Stevenson says she wouldn't know what to do without the help from the program.
“It keeps you from worrying to try and cook and what not and having nourishing food for you to eat," she said.
After Stevenson was put on a waiting list a few years ago, she never thought she would get on the route.
"I was on it just about a year and that's a good while to wait," noted Stevenson.
But Stevenson’s lucky because there are nearly 500 seniors waiting for some help from Meals on Wheels and over 1800 waiting for other services.
“I would guess for every client that I serve there is probably two or three on the waiting list," said Meals on Wheels driver, Eric.
Eric serves the elderly every day and he sees first hand how important the program is to them.
"As the needs grows and the services we provide increase the funding for extra people to actually give these services is not going to be there," said Eric.
The Council on Aging does as much as they can with what they have to make sure the seniors don't go hungry.
"It's heart wrenching and we feel their pain because they call into us. It's our job to help them and serve them," said Council on Aging’s Director, Tasha Clark-Amar.
But they won’t know until what challenges they will be faced with until the end of session and the budget is complete.
“We need to be able to grow we need to be able to expand. We need more people to drive the routes to prepare the meals and were not going to have the funding there to meet that need,” noted Eric.
What they do know is that each day is a struggle for them and for each aging person looking for a helping hand.
“These are people that pay taxes and laid the foundation in this city for years and when it comes time for their biggest need no one can help them. Yes, it's drastic,” said Clark-Amar.
To get on the route and off the waiting list someone has to no longer qualify.