The county is stepping up to protect seniors in the face of sequestration cuts and offering help for veterans and young mothers despite federal government gridlock, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.
Visiting the Middleton Senior Center, the County Executive outlined a new investment in his 2014 budget that restores funding that a critical county senior nutrition program lost after federal sequestration cuts to the Federal Older Americans Act.
“Federal government gridlock is putting an increased strain on Dane County and the critical services we provide our residents,” said Parisi. “Despite these challenges, we continue to provide important assistance and programs for our seniors, veterans, and young mothers in need.”
The Middleton Senior Center is one of 28 senior meal sites across the county that provides nutritious food and fellowship for adults over 60 through the “Senior Nutrition Program of Dane County.”
The program helps seniors afford nutritious meals in the face of rapidly rising out-of-pocket health care costs over and above what Medicare pays, and growing energy and food costs. When seniors face this budget crunch – sometimes a choice between paying a heating bill or a medicine bill instead of buying food – good nutrition suffers significantly. And when seniors are unable to meet their nutritional needs, health care costs rise.
For these reasons, funding for the Senior Nutrition Program in Dane County is essential. Parisi’s 2014 budget includes $16,000 to offset sequestration cuts to the program that will keep all of the sites open and operational. Parisi’s investment makes up for the cost to run a single meal site. It costs approximately $14,000 to run the meal site at the Middleton Senior Center.
“Gridlock at the federal level jeopardizes our social safety net and put strains on already stretched local dollars,” said Supervisor Sharon Corrigan. “I'm proud to support filling in this need for our senior citizens.”
In the past 12 months in Dane County, more than 223,000 hot, nutritious meals were delivered to more than 4,800 older adults at senior dining sites and through home delivered meals. Meals are often served 5 days per week and the meal itself provides more than 1/3 of the recommended daily nutrition for an older adult.
Of those served, more than half are over age 75, nearly a quarter admit to living in poverty, nearly half live alone, and 60% live in the county’s rural communities.
The County Executive also detailed the effect a prolonged shutdown of federal government will have on Dane County’s veterans.
Veterans in Dane County may have increased difficulty accessing the services they deserve with some information hotlines and outreach services through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) affected by the government shutdown.
The Dane County Veterans Service Office remains open and available to help veterans with anything from a job search to home ownership, and veterans are still able to contact the county VSO to sign up for benefits.
The federal VA reports that they have enough funding available to process claims and payments in compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs through late October. The VA cautions, however, that if the government shutdown continues for a prolonged period of time that these programs will be suspended when their funding is exhausted.
Parisi also assured that a critical program for first-time young mothers, the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC), is operational in Dane County despite some national reports. WIC provides healthy foods and nutrition information to help keep pregnant and breastfeeding women, and their children less than five years of age, healthy and strong.
Dane County WIC services will continue for the foreseeable future during the federal shutdown. WIC clinic hours at both the South Park Street and East Washington locations will remain the same, and clinics outside of Madison will continue to be open on Fridays. WIC checks are still valid and WIC is encouraging clients to spend them.
More information on how to access critical services during the government shut down can be found below.
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PROGRAM INFORMATION FOR SENIORS, VETERANS, YOUNG MOTHERS
The Senior Nutrition Program of Dane County
Contact: Area Agency on Aging of Dane County
2322 South Park Street
Madison, WI 53713
Meal Site Locations:
The Dane County Veterans Service Office
City-County Building, Room 108
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Madison, WI 53703
Open Monday through Friday, 7:45am - 4:30pm
(608) 266-4158 or online at www.danevets.com
Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC)
WIC - Public Health Madison & Dane County
2230 S. Park St.
Madison, WI 53713
(608) 267-1111 or online at http://www.publichealthmdc.com/family/wic/
South Park Street Clinic
2230 S. Park St., Madison, WI 53713
Mon: 8 am-5 pm
Wed: 10 am-7 pm
Fri: 8 am-4 pm
East Washington Avenue Clinic
2705 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53704
Tues: 8 am-5 pm
Thurs: 8 am-5 pm
WIC staff travel to many locations outside Madison. Please call for times and dates: