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Local Meals on Wheels feeling the financial pinch

New Orleans, LA -- The sequestration cuts have impacted defense, education and social service programs like Meals on Wheels for senior citizens.

Now, Howard Rogers, the Executive Director for the New Orleans Council on Aging is scrambling to find a way to keep serving meals to those who desperately need them.

The Central City Senior Center serves hot meals for dozens of senior citizens everyday thanks to funds from the New Orleans Council on Aging.

"That meal helps them with their income by not having to purchase that meal. So sometimes it's the only meal that they have. They have no other way of getting a hot meal because some of them are elderly. They really can't cook," says Priscilla Edwards, Executive Director of the Central City Senior Center. 

But statewide senior centers may soon close or have to stop feeding the elderly.

"Our state figures tells us that the State of Louisiana receives about $448,000 for the meals program and that translates into 97,000 meals statewide," says Rogers

Rogers says with state and federal budget cuts he's already put a freeze on the Meals on Wheels program.

"We're just going to have to freeze our waiting list, that's the waiting list for meals, the waiting list for meals going to the senior centers and also for the programs that we operate such as the caregivers program. We're going to have to freeze all those lists. People will go hungry," says Rogers.

Members of the local council on aging are planning to mobilize on Wednesday.

They'll head to Baton Rouge to fight for more state and federal funding for the Meals on Wheels program.

"The seniors are going to Baton Rouge to meet with the legislators know what the centers mean to them, what the meals mean to them and what they mean to Orleans Parish," says Edwards.

"We've asked the city to help us. Some of the city council members have said they will try and help us to find additional funds," says Rogers.

Rogers says until that money comes, he will have to turn away those who need help the most.

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