Sequester Cuts Hits NEK Seniors

meals picNORTHEAST KINGDOM - Sequester cuts in Washington are effecting seniors in the North East Kingdom, where some may have to be put on a waiting list for the Meals on Wheels program.

Cuts in Washington have trickled down to the Area Agency on Aging in Saint Johnsbury. The agency will see a $54,000 cut to all of its programs through this September according to director Ken Gordon. Under the agency is the Meals on Wheels program, which feeds around 150 people every day. Last year alone, Meals on Wheels made 34,000 meals according to Director Diane Coburn, and in the last five years that number has increased by 1,000 meals each year. "If we get cut from what were receiving now it's going to be a big challenge" says Coburn, "people need it because most are living longer and a lot of people need the program because they're not finically able to purchase food each week."

Executive director of the Agency Ken Gordon says he, as well as the board of directors made a plan incase this were to happen "we looked at putting aside some money. We also didn't fill some staff positions this year so we could reduce expenses."

Gordon says if congress does not do anything, these cuts will remain in place for the next 8 years "were hopeful that some changes will happen but were also panning for the possibility that might not be the case."

According to Gordon, for now the Agency is using money out of its "emergency fund" but if the cuts continue past the fall, they will have to implement a waiting list. "We would have to ration or create some kind of waiting line because we probably will not be able to serve as many people as we do today."