As Congress begins day 14 of the shutdown, area agencies are examining just how long they can last without federal money. That includes Meals on Wheels, which has hundreds of area seniors counting on their arrival.
Wayne County has enough money to the keep the program solvent through mid-November, according to Kevin Byrnes, county communications manager.
The state of Michigan is advancing $360,000 to keep the Meals on Wheels program operating. Between Wayne County, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) and the Senior Alliance, more than 6,300 meals are delivered to seniors five days a week.
“We value our seniors,” said Wayne County executive Robert Ficano. “While we cannot control the federal budget standoff, we felt it was important to find a funding vehicle so our seniors can continue to get the Meals on Wheels and congregate meal services they need."
Federal money makes up the bulk of the nearly $4 million dollars needed to operate the Meals on Wheels program in Wayne County. The U.S. government contributes $2.2 million while the state of Michigan provides slightly more than $788,000.
Wayne County contributes $500,000 from its general fund toward the program. The remaining $410,500 is garnered through donations.
“Thousands of seniors depend on Meals on Wheels,” said Ficano. “We have already been dealing with cuts due to federal sequestration, so to have this funding, even a short-term basis, is an enormous resource for our senior clients.
“I want to thank the state of Michigan and the senior agencies for working with us to keep Meals on Wheels operating," he said.
Wayne County Senior Citizen Nutrition Programs offer many services to eligible seniors (age 60 and older). The programs include: congregate meals, home delivered meals, liquid meals and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
For more information on the programs, call Wayne County Senior and Veterans Services at 734-727-7357.