East Bay's Meals on Wheels hit by federal spending cuts


For 92-year-old Helen Deman, this hot meal that's delivered to her home daily is a critical lifeline. And some days, it's her only contact with another person.

"I really rely on Meals on Wheels," Helen said "And, I can't get out to get meals, I can't afford what meals cost in restaurants and elsewhere."

But thanks to the federal funding cuts brought on by sequestration, Meals on Wheels may have to stop serving to hundreds of clients in Contra Costa County, like Helen.

Marilynn Gray-Raine is a volunteer who delivers dozens of hot meals to seniors each week. She can't imagine any one of them going without.

"It leaves the most vulnerable citizens, the elderly, and the disabled more alone, more needing help and to me that's a shame," Gray-Raine said.

The Meals on Wheels program here in Contra Costa County was already struggling, but then sequestration made a difficult situation into a dire one.

Meals on Wheels normally received about $500,000 per year from the federal government. Now that's been cut by 20 percent.

"The variable costs are the meals, so that's really where the cuts have to come from and we will lose about 200 meals a day, countywide," said Paul Kraintz with Meals on Wheels.

Asked what she would do without her regular visits from Meals on Wheels, Helen was at a loss.

"If I didn't have it, I'd just have to have someone deliver groceries," she said. When asked if she could afford that, Helen answered, "Not really."

With sequestration in place, Meals on Wheels officials are hoping for an increase in private donations to make up the difference.

Donations to Meals on Wheels can be sent to Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa, PO Box 3195, Martinez, CA 94553 or made via the website here.

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