Tulsa's privately funded Meals on Wheels expected to aid Oklahoma nutrition assistance programs

TULSA - The White House estimates Oklahoma's nutritional assistance programs for seniors will get $300,000 fewer from the federal government under the sequester. The Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program expects to take a direct hit from the cuts, while Tulsa's Meals on Wheels said they'll be there to pick up the slack.

The Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program is funded mostly by the federal government. The dollars come from the Older Americans Act, which is expected to take a sharp funding hit from the sequester. Ronda Lynn, program director, said funding slashes are causing the Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program to find places to cut costs.

"About three-fourths of our funding comes from the federal government, and so with the sequestration going into place, we could experience a 5-7 percent cut in funding," she explained.

The Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program feeds 1,500 seniors in the greater Tulsa area every day. The 5-7 percent funding cut, which Lynn figured will result in $70,000-$80,000 fewer for the program, will also result in 200 fewer meals every day. She said they're focused on not letting funding cuts affect their services.

"We're going to work at just doing some internal restructuring to keep our meal service at the current level," Lynn said.

Cuts are also expected to plague Meals on Wheels programs across the country, who, like the Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program, are funded, in part, with federal dollars.

In Tulsa, however, the outlook isn't nearly as bleak. Tulsa's Meals on Wheels is privately funded, and similar to 2010 when funding was reduced, they're prepared to come to the aid of Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program.

"We will be able to pick up some of the slack and just hope and pray that the community continues to be generous to us and support any additional needs," said executive director Dan Rabovsky.

Rabovsky said today's financial solvency doesn't mean they'll skate through the sequester without hitting a bump. He said stretches made by Meals on Wheels to help the Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program will mean his organization will call on the community for greater funding and volunteerism.

Lynn said the Tulsa and Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program will have a better understanding of the sequester's effects come July 1, when their fiscal year closes.

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