By Holly Glen Gearhart
The sequester is a troubling time for those who depend on SNAP or Meals on Wheels to supplement their daily nutrition. The slow recovery of the economy has puts demands on state and federal programs to find ways to tighten up their funding belts, and many feared cuts to senior nutrition programs.
Programs such as Meals on Wheels experienced a 7 percent decline in funding this year, but in the nick of time, the state identified some much-needed financial resources and filled in the gap, bringing their shortfall to 5 percent.
All in all, there will be no apparent decline in the services the Sky Valley will receive from the popular resource.
“We were very fortunate,” said nutrition program chief Martha Peppones of Snohomish County Senior Services on the telephone last week,“[Funding] looks good until the end of September, 2013.”
In September the state will face another round of cuts that could cost the program 10 to 15 percent of the already- scarce budget, but for now they are taking a wait-and-see stance.
If the state government passes a bill to raise the gasoline tax an additional 10 cents a gallon, there will be a definite financial impact to Meals on Wheels, but one they said they are ready to address.
“Should the gas tax happen or our funding meet with more cuts, we would find a way to serve those in need,” stated Peppones. “It may take lengthening the routes for our drivers or fewer trucks being dispatched,” but they will look to their volunteer resources to fill in the gaps.
Meal on Wheels for Snohomish County drives 700 to 800 miles a week, with each vehicle averaging about 15 miles per gallon.
For now, everyone on the Meals on Wheels list is going to be served, at least until September of this year. There is no waiting list for the program at this time.
For more information visit http://www.sssc.org/meals_on_wheels.htm or call (425) 347-1229 or 1 (800) 824-2183.