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Meals on Wheels concerned about sequestration

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Buffalo: Meals on Wheels concerned about sequestration
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As the need for Meals on Wheels service continues to grow in Erie County, the nonprofit organization is concerned about the impact cuts from sequestration would have if Congress doesn't reach a deal in the next couple days. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us about the challenges Meals on Wheels is facing as it works to meet the demand for service.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's a daily source of nutrition and companionship for home-bound people in Erie County.

"You really need Meals on Wheels, because anybody can fry you some food up, but it's not good for me to have that," said Kenneth Cheaves, a Buffalo resident. "They like to get acquainted with you and know what's good for you and what's, are you all right?"

Last year, Meals on Wheels for Western New York delivered more than 901,000 meals and produced 330,000 for sites where seniors dine together.

The organization says need has increased for years as government funding remained flat, and sequestration threatens to reduce federal support.

"We would face a cut of an additional $107,000 for Meals on Wheels for WNY only, which is the equivalent of about 35,000 meals for the community. The idea of sequestration is a huge impact because we already face such tight budgets," said Rachel Leidenfrost, director of strategic communications for Meals on Wheels for WNY.

Leidenfrost says they're also facing the challenge of rising food prices.

"That, compounded with increased need, that just means skyrocketing costs that we need to find a way to fund."

So in case the sequestration deadline passes without a resolution, Meals on Wheels is working on a Plan B.

"A big part of that comes down to fundraising and looking for alternative sources in the community and also looking for new streams of revenue," she said.

Leidenfrost says they're reaching out to nursing homes, day cares and other groups that might be willing to purchase food from Meals on Wheels.

She says other Meals on Wheels throughout the country have waiting lists for their service – but she's hopeful it won't get to that point.

"Congress really needs to act and make smart budgetary decisions as opposed to cutting everything across the board," said Leidenfrost.

"Out of all the programs they've cut in the country through the years, I pray that they never cut Meals on Wheels," Cheaves said.

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