Elderly sit on waiting lists for much-needed meal delivery services

Updated: May. 30, 2017 at 9:11 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Local Council on Aging organizations feel the federal and state government are neglecting the elderly population when it comes to meal delivery services.

In Orleans Parish, 900 elderly sit on a waiting list to have a meal delivered to their home.

"For a lot of seniors here, not only in Orleans Parish but in Metropolitan New Orleans, the hot meal they receive from the Council on Aging is the only hot meal that they get Monday through Friday," Orleans Parish Council on Aging Executive Director Howard Rodgers said.

Funding for Council on Aging organizations is handled through the Older Americans Act, which is renewed annually and sent down to the states to be dispersed to based on population.

The Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs in Louisiana said President Donald Trump's proposed budget does not cut nor increase funding to the agency.

The National Security to Preserve Social Security and Medicare highlighted the funding problem that has left thousands of elderly without much needed services. The NSPSSM said over the past 20 years, the Older Americans Act has lost ground due to our rapidly-increasing frail, older population, and federal funding that has not kept pace with either inflation or growth in the older population. Eligible seniors face waiting periods for many OAA services in most states.

"It's the lowest it's been in the last ten years as far as the number of meals we're serving," Jefferson Parish Council on Aging CEO Al Robichaux said.

Jefferson Council on Aging delivered more than 1200 meals to the elderly in 2015, but with a lack of funding, 452 elderly who are currently in need are no longer get the service.

"We are dealing elderly people who do not have the support structure to take care of them and can't furnish their own meals," Robichaux said. "It makes it more difficult for them to live alone and again the people that we are dealing with are the kind of people that are used to dealing with less. So they are quiet in their homes. You don't hear them complaining, marching, demonstration. They are the silent majority."

Rodgers believes the cause of the problem is simple. He said for twenty years state and federal funding has not increased with food costs and more and more of the baby boomer generation are beginning to qualify for benefits at age 60.

"One million dollars would solve my problem right now. I would be able to get rid of my waiting list. But guess what? Once I get rid of that 900 individuals on the waiting list, in two years time we'll have another waiting list because it's one of the basic needs," Rodgers said.

"Elderly people are suffering," Terrebonne Council on Aging Executive Director Diana Edmonson said.

Edmonson cooks 900 homemade meals a day to be delivered throughout her parish, but 200 elderly people sit on her waiting list because the funds just are not there.

"As a nation as a parish as a state, we should help these people because they have helped us and if you're lucky enough to age, you will need someone's help," Edmonson said.

Several parishes have a millage tax to help fund meal delivery services for the councils on aging. Jefferson, Terrebonne and St. Tammany have millages but still have a waiting list for meal delivery services. Orleans Parish does not have a millage to help fund services for the elderly.

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