Federal budget could derail Meals on Wheels program

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – One program bracing to possibly lose some funding is Meals on Wheels.

Locally that service provides more than 500,000 meals a year for senior citizens and others who are disabled in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties alone.

But this is not a story about budget numbers.

This is a story about people and how they will get by if the program is cut.

Every week day volunteers with Meals on Wheels deliver lunch to Joel Gilison’s door at Somerset Senior Community in Lansing.

He’s had back surgery and suffers from arthritis and says this program has changed his life.

“I have days that I’m not able to stand and do any cooking on my own,” explains Gilison. “Having these volunteers that come in and greet me at the door with something to eat takes a burden off me.”

After hearing the President’s 2018 fiscal year budget could cut funding for Meals on Wheels Gilison says he’s scared for his life.

“I believe when that stops, I mean, how am I gonna, without other help how am I gonna get out to eat anything at all? I can’t get out in this weather it only makes me sicker.”

And Tammy Lemmer who helps run the local program says Meals on Wheels is about more than preventing hunger.

“That person who’s knocking at that door is able to say hi, how are things going,” asks Lemmer. “Sometimes it’s the only person that client has seen as well.”

If anything, Lemmer says, Meals on Wheels needs more money to meet the need in the community, not less.

In fact, she says there’s a waiting list of people who right now they just can’t afford to feed.

And it’s not only the recipients concerned.

The volunteers themselves say they benefit from it too. “It’s a good feeling to give back to the community, to provide a smile and a warm meal to someone that might not otherwise receive that.”

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