Budget cuts hitting Meals on Wheels hard in Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Budget cuts hitting Meals on Wheels hard in Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Government financing is at the heart of a popular program in Eau Claire County.  But money is being cut from Meals on Wheels and there are concerns about it moving forward.

Meals on Wheels has become a staple here in Eau Claire; delivering about 350 daily meals to the homebound and those with disabilities. 

"Coming into our homes to deliver these meals means everything," says recipient Coni Johnson.

Federal funding has dropped because of the Sequester; but that's only part of it.  According to new census numbers, there are fewer senior citizens in Eau Claire County.  The more seniors there are, the more funding the county receives.  Eau Claire County is now anticipating a $50,000 gap in funding.  So the program is reaching out to local businesses for help.

"We are hoping to get about $1,000 from 50 or so groups so we can meet the $50,000 budget that we are going to need for next year," explains Volunteer Coordinator Kaylynn Stahlbusch.

For those on the receiving end here in Eau Claire County, Meals on Wheels is so much more than having a hot lunch delivered right to your door.

"Sometimes you get the paper for people or mail or whatever," points out Meals on Wheels Driver Gordy Geurink.

"Then they make you a birthday cake on your birthday," says a smiling Linda Larson, who receives meals from the program.

"We can check on them.  We have an emergency procedure.  If somebody is not home, we can contact their family," Stahlbusch reveals.

"I like to find out about their families and what they have been up to and they always have interesting stories," Johnson adds.

Residents receiving meals on Monday say the cuts are hitting the people that need help most and hope businesses respond to the call for help.

"It's not too much just to feed the people.  It's just such a basic thing," Geurink says.  "Where are we if we can't do that?"

As of now, the group has raised about $1,000.  On Wednesday, a county committee will get an update on how the organization plans to reach out to local businesses for help.

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