Sequestration, not shutdown, troubles Meals on Wheels

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Oct. 7, 2013

Timothy Grills spent the morning of Oct.7 writing a letter to the senior center directors in New London, Windham and parts of Tolland County. His message: do all you can to urge seniors to contact their representatives in Washington. It’s not the government shutdown that’s got Grills concerned. It’s the ongoing impact of sequestration.

Since March 1, when Congress couldn’t agree on a deficit reduction plan, automatic across-the-board cuts went into effect. As a result, Grills has had to make due with far fewer dollars. He is the Director of Nutrition Services for the Thames Valley Council for Community Action. TVCCA is not a government agency, but they are funded in part through state and federal grants. The sequestration has cut the Meals on Wheels budget by $66,000. He’s had to revamp the program and lay off 12 employees.

Homebound seniors who count on the meals for nourishment are receiving fewer meals and going longer between home visits. For those seniors who have few visitors, the decrease in visits can be crucial. “We’re a wellness check for seniors,” Grills said. “That in itself is a problem.”

Grills recently met with U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney (D-2) and an aid for U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy. “The only way this will get changed is if we voice our opinion,” Grills said. “If we don’t do anything and we’re quiet, they’ll think it doesn’t matter. We have to call their offices. We have to write letters. We have to be a thorn in their side to get anything done.”

Grills has already talked with is client base. He’s hoping senior center directors in the area can convince their seniors to call or write to their representatives in Washington. “We have to get our voice out,” he said.

Those contact numbers are:
U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney (D-2) Norwich District Office: 860-886-0139:  Washington office: 202-225-2076
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) Hartford office: 860-258-6940; Washington Office: 202-224-2823
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D) Hartford Office: Phone: 860-549-8463; Washington Office: Phone: 202-224-4041

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