Government sequester could impact local ‘Meals on Wheels’ progra - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Government sequester could impact local ‘Meals on Wheels’ programs

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Alverda Jenkins Alverda Jenkins

Alverda Jenkins, 96, has been a participant in Calcasieu Parish's "Meals on Wheels" program for nearly 30 years.

"I got in it shortly after my husband died because that's when I started living alone," she said. "With my different health problems, the program was a good thing."

The program, administered through the Calcasieu Council on Aging, delivers a hot meal to seniors enrolled in the program.

The program already serves over 500 clients in the parish and according to the Executive Director of the Council on Aging, Jackie Green, that demand is growing.

"We have 288 people who are currently on the wait list for the program" Green said. "Seniors in this area use and appreciate this service."

That's why both Green and Jenkins agree, cuts to the program's budget, which is funded in part by the federal government, would not be in the best interest of the program or seniors.

Services like the "Meals on Wheels" program, nationwide, are facing cuts during the possible government sequester if a deal is not reached in Congress by Friday.

"Our program spends over $1 million a year," Green said. "$400,000 of that comes from the federal government. So, if we're cut, we'll have to make up those funds someway else."

White House officials this week released a list of state-by-state impacts if the sequestration were to take effect.

Here is the list released for Louisiana, for this year alone:

Teachers and Schools: Louisiana will lose approximately $15.8 in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 220 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 26,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 50 fewer schools would receive funding.

Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Louisiana will lose approximately $9.8 million in funds for about 120 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

Work-Study Jobs: Around 540 fewer low income students in Louisiana would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 110 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,400 children in Louisiana, reducing access to critical early education.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Louisiana would lose about $2.5 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Louisiana could lose another $884,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Military Readiness: In Louisiana, approximately 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $35.9 million in total.

Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $58 million in Louisiana.

Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Louisiana would be cut by about $8 million.

Navy: A planned demolition project at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and a scheduled Blue Angels show at Barksdale Air Force Base could be canceled.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Louisiana will lose about $264,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

Job Search Assistance to Help those in Louisiana find Employment and Training: Louisiana will lose about $509,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 17,150 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

Child Care: Up to 600 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

Vaccines for Children: In Louisiana around 1,730 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $118,000.

Public Health: Louisiana will lose approximately $433,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Louisiana will lose about $1.3 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 1,300 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Louisiana State Department of Health & Hospitals will lose about $320,000 resulting in around 8,000 fewer HIV tests.

STOP Violence Against Women Program: Louisiana could lose up to $97,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 400 fewer victims being served.

Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: Louisiana would lose approximately $488,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

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