Lunch time at the Carl Junction Senior Center means some delicious food and important nutrition.
"The meal is very important," says Ron Forbis, a driver with the local Meals on Wheels program.
But there's more to it.
"Contact," says Forbis.
Many of the elderly people having lunch at the senior center also deliver Meals on Wheels to people over the age of 60 who are confined to their homes.
"Checking on those people and making sure their well-being is OK," says Forbis.
Forbis says without Meals on Wheels, many of the Four States' elderly would be forgotten.
"My wife went up to deliver, and noticed something strange. There were some meals stacked up. Went inside, and the lady had passed away," says Forbis.
A total of 20,000 meals a month are delivered to people in Jasper, Newton, McDonald, and Barton counties. The local branch of the Area Agency on Aging that serves these four counties has a budget of $4 million, with $450,000 coming from state funding. Local Area Agency on Aging officials say about half of of the $4 million goes towards the Meals on Wheels program.
But officials also say their budget now is the same as it was in 2009.
"We have a waiting list for the Meals on Wheels program," says Beatrice Scott, a regional delegate for the Area Agency on Aging.
"Historically, funding is always cut for Area Agency on Aging, for our Meals on Wheels program. That's the first thing that's cut for us," says Scott.
Scott says a new governor with new budget priorities leads to new Meals on Wheels budget cuts that have yet to be defined.
But Meals on Wheels volunteers hope state officials realize the economic importance of their program.
"Cost-wise, it's cheaper to keep people in their own homes," says Forbis.
"My son is in a care facility, and he's on Medicaid," says Scott.
Scott and Forbis hope they can continue feeding people's tummies...and well-being.
Governor Greitens says he's going to have to make some very tough decisions in order to balance an important state budget. But Area Agency on Aging officials say the state receives a percentage of people's insurance payments, whether it be health or home insurance. They're proposing a legislative bill that would permanently appropriate to them a certain percentage of that insurance revenue going to the state.
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