State budget cuts threatening program that gives senior citizens a hot meal

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 19:35:12-04

2 Works For You is learning how state budget cuts could be threatening essential services for our senior citizens.

Oklahoma's Department of Human Services said it was forced to cut nearly $2-million from a program that provides nearly 300,000 meals across the state.

Five days a week, senior citizens come to the Rayfield Baptist Church in Muskogee to get one hot meal.

Thursday's lunch was packed.

Officials said a lot of these meals are the only meals some of these senior citizens get.

Because of the state budget cuts programs like this could be affected.

2 Works For You confirmed with DHS  that the agency that oversees this program is facing a $195,000 cut.

Officials said its still unclear how much the cuts could affect sites like the one in Muskogee, but the site manager tells said she’s never seen a threat to her program like this before.

"I believe this is one of the biggest cuts that I’ve ever seen in the 41 years I’ve been here. We’ve never had a cut this large,” said Shirley Maxey.

The DHS contract for nutritional services with the Eastern Oklahoma Development District has been reduced by nearly $195,000. Statewide, DHS reduced funding for contracted senior meal sites by $1.7M, which means about 277,000 fewer meals over the next year throughout the state.

DHS provided a statement to 2 Works For You:

DHS is facing a $30M shortfall for SFY2018 ( which began July 1). We were able to avoid total elimination of any one program by spreading the cuts across all populations we serve. In addition to the senior nutrition contract reductions, DHS has reduced reimbursements to foster and adoptive families; frozen new applications for child care subsidies for six months beginning Oct 1; reduced the Medicaid in-home waiver to help older persons stay in their own home and receive services rather than live in a nursing home; and eliminated more than 1,200 non-child welfare positions within DHS.

DHS was just notified yesterday that the agency would receive $4.2M in returned state dollars from the revenue failure. Leaders are currently reviewing all the options to determine where best to apply those funds to offset planned reductions.

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