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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Feds trim funds for Agency on Aging

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Southern Area Agency on Aging will receive roughly 4 to 5 percent less federal funding for home-delivered meals, congregate meals and transportation for in-home services in the upcoming fiscal year.

The cuts totaling about $76,000 are due to sequestration, according Teresa Carter Fontaine, SAAA’s executive director, and information she provided. Sequestration refers to mandated federal spending cuts across most departments and agencies.

Fontaine said SAAA recently received its funding level for the federal fiscal year that will start Oct. 1 (fiscal year 2014). It shows reductions of about $35,000, or 5 percent, for home-delivered meals; about $15,000, or about 4.75 percent, for congregate meals (at community sites); and about $26,000, or about 4 percent, in funds used primarily for transportation for in-home services.

Federal funds (Older American Act and U.S. Department of Agriculture) for home-delivered meals will decline from about $610,000 in the current fiscal year, which will end Sept. 30, to about $575,000 in fiscal 2014, Fontaine said.

Year to date (Oct. 1, 2012, until now), that program has provided 684 people with 87,257 meals in Henry, Patrick, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville, she said.

“We have started the process, working closely with two subcontractors, to determine the impact” of the funding cuts on SAAA, Fontaine said. It is too preliminary to say how SAAA will modify its operations because of less funding, and it probably will be late July or early August before that is known, she said.

“We will look at different ways to cut administratively and overhead costs before (cutting) food for meals or drivers who deliver,” she said.

The meals are delivered to homes Mondays through Fridays, she added.

Some people call the home-delivered meals program “meals on wheels.”

Federal funds (Older American Act) for congregate meals will decline from $313,810 in the current fiscal year to nearly $299,000 in fiscal 2014, a reduction of about $15,000, she said.

“That program is already running pretty lean,” so the cuts “may translate into reduction in the numbers of days open,” she said.

The congregate meal sites typically are open once a week, she added.

Year to date, 619 people were provided 17,886 meals, she said. Congregate meal sites are in Martinsville, Bassett, Axton and Preston, she said.

Older American Act funds primarily used for transportation for in-home services will decline from $716,266 in the current fiscal year to about $690,000 in fiscal 2014, Fontaine said. That reduction of about $26,000 could mean SAAA would have to serve fewer people, she added.

Fontaine explained that this year to date, SAAA has provided 178 people a total of 10,294 hours of in-home services. Services include such things as personal care for older people, light housekeeping assistance and respite (providing breaks) for caregivers.

In considering how to adjust operations because of the cuts, SAAA will consider clients’ individual circumstances, for instance, weighing services provided for a client who has no family or caregiver support against those who do have a support network, she said.

“We’re certainly going to be mindful of those scenarios,” Fontaine said.


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