MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – For five years now, Helen McDaniel has received a hot meal from her favorite volunteers with Meals on Wheels of Macon.
"I don't have any friends here," McDaniel said, "I talk to them and every once in a while I will help them deliver the meals."
The home bound senior at McAfee towers depends on the food to help her financially and looks forward to the volunteers' visits to keep her company. But now her whole routine is in jeopardy. Federal budget cuts are creating a fight over food for senior citizens across the area. Meals on Wheels programs nationwide are facing millions of dollars in federal budget cuts. The office in Macon serves Bibb, Crawford, Jones and Monroe counties and delivers to thousands of people and pets each day. There is a waiting list of 375 more seniors who need to be served.
"We're facing a big gap," said Winnie Hinton, Meals on Wheels of Macon executive director, "and it's a little scary."
The uncertainty surrounding the cost-saving initiatives is even scarier. The White House has stated that Meals on Wheels will serve 4 million fewer meals each year. Hinton hasn't received a detailed account of how many meals her office will lose. Her staff has been planning and preparing for the "sequesters storm" but the pantry's running dry. The office is now depending heavily on grant writing, volunteers and donations to make ends meet.
"We're riding it out on the back of the most vulnerable people," Hinton said.