Meals on Wheels needs support from community
I want to respond to the recent Bee Heard piece about Meals on Wheels’ funding.
I should begin by saying that I cannot speak for Amherst Meals on Wheels, a program managed out of your local senior center. Our program, Meals on Wheels for WNY, covers the vast majority of Erie County — including Williamsville and Clarence.
Any program that receives part of its funding from the Older Americans Act (as MOW-WNY does) is prohibited from doing any “means testing” with clients.
We can ask for a voluntary contribution; however, people receive the meals and lifesaving service whether they are able to contribute or not. Our “all-in” cost for a two-meal unit is $11.42 a day (food, production, lights, heat, social work, registered dieticians, etc.).
Our suggested voluntary contribution is $7 per day for the two nutritionally appropriate meals. Our average actual contribution is $2.07 per day. The more effective MOW-WNY is at serving the vulnerable in need, the larger the potential funding gap we face. This is very different than the idea of a sliding fee scale, which by its very nature means that you are assessing clients’ financial means.
MOW-WNY is one of thousands of programs that receives part of its budget from the Older Americans Act. This funding is just one piece of a complex puzzle, but it is an extremely important piece. We also work tirelessly to diversify revenue and to aggressively raise funds to ensure availability of services.
Programs throughout the nation are not all as fortunate; it is not uncommon to see long waiting lists and a discontinuation of service when funds are depleted.
Despite the work we’ve done locally to make our program strong, make no mistake — a severe cut in federal funding would have a significant impact on local programming and its availability to those in need.
Tara A. Ellis
President and CEO
Meals on Wheels WNY