Because nothing says freedom like hungry old people. If you follow the conservative fever swamps, you know that conservatives have had a raging hard-on for killing Meals on Wheels, a program that provides home meals to elderly shut-ins and is largely volunteer staffed (at the local and state levels, conservatives have opposed this program too).
So guess what will get hit if sequestration happens? Yep:
Helen Becker of Northampton, Pa. has received a hot meal from volunteers with Meals On Wheels of Northampton County every day for the past several years.
“That’s the biggest part of my diet, having the cooked meal,” Becker, 89, said in an interview. On Mondays it might be rotisserie baked chicken with yams, Tuesdays maybe spaghetti with meatballs accompanied by half a cup of applesauce and a dinner roll. And so on, every weekday at lunchtime.
The whole routine is now in doubt, thanks to budget cuts known as “sequestration” that are scheduled to kick in on Friday. The policy will deliver a 5.1 percent cut to a broad range of federal programs, including those under the Administration on Aging, which since 1972 has provided federal funds for senior nutrition programs.
“If they try and cut it I don’t know what’s going to happen to all these people that get it, especially somebody like me and all the others,” Becker said.
Exactly how many fewer meals seniors will receive and whether Becker will be affected remain unclear. The Obama administration says 4 million meals will be lost. The Meals On Wheels Association of America, an umbrella group for some 5,000 local organizations nationwide distributing a million meals a day, estimates the cuts will have an even bigger effect: 19 million fewer meals….
“Given that most Meals On Wheels recipients only get one meal a day, five days a week, that loss of nutrition and personal interaction would be catastrophic,” Ellie Hollander, president of the Meals On Wheels Association of America, said in a statement. “We know that seniors who receive nutritious meals are healthier and more independent than those who don’t.”
Hollander noted a recent Brown University study that found investments in food can keep seniors healthier and out of nursing homes, and thereby save the government money.
Even before the cuts have begun, Hollander said they’re already having an effect. “In anticipation of the looming sequestration, wait lists are growing, seniors are being turned away, and some programs face the risk of shutting down entirely,” she said.