Delayed state budget impacting waitlists for Triad Meals on Wheels programs

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Most counties in the Piedmont Triad are reporting an increase in waitlist numbers for seniors hoping to receive food through the Meals on Wheels program.

T. Lee Covington, the president and CEO of Senior Services in Forsyth County, said Thursday that their program had about 75 people on the waitlist.

In Guilford County, 309 people want to sign up for the program, an extremely high number compared to the normal waitlist.

Covington said that a delay in passing the state budget is contributing to the increase.

He explained that 12 to 14 percent of their funding comes from the Home and Community Care Block Grant and the funds that are approved through the state budget process.

“For this next year, more than $5.6 million, and so in my time in aging services I’ve never seen that level of support,” Covington said. “However because that budget process is sort of in stalemate right now, the governor vetoed it and they haven’t been able to figure it out, those increased funds are not flowing.”

Covington said that people calling to sign up for the program typically need assistance quickly.

“We never want to tell someone they’re on a waiting list,” he said. “Folks usually wind up calling us or walking in when they are experiencing a crisis. And when you’re in crisis you need assistance right away.”

He said they are supplementing with a grocery program that provides food from their shelves.

“But those folks are waiting for a critical service that we all take for granted which is a hot meal and some human interaction,” he said.

Alamance County reported 115 people on their waitlist, Davidson County reported 97 and Randolph County said they did not currently have a waitlist.

The House of Representatives approved an additional $30 million to fund nutritional programs for older adults, but Covington said could take months for those funds to make their way to the state and local levels.

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