Hundreds of thousands of hot meals for elderly and home-bound Oklahoma residents are being eliminated based on state budget cuts made earlier this week, according to a state senator.
And Sen. Kenneth Corn is calling for a special session to stop the $7 million in cuts by the state Department of Human Services. That money would cover more than 780,000 hot meals for the remainder of the fiscal year. The cuts also eliminate senior nutrition centers statewide.
“If this stands, many of our elderly are going to go hungry and risk their health and independence. To me that is absolutely unacceptable,” Corn said. “No one should go without the food they need to live!”
The cut, DHS officials said, was made in response to declining state revenues. It is the second time this fall DHS has cut its budget because of revenue shortfalls. Corn said the latest cuts amount to nearly 30 percent of the state’s nutrition program budget.
The nutrition program serves hot meals on a daily basis to thousands of senior citizens in nearly every Oklahoma community, either through community kitchens, senior citizen centers, or the meals-on-wheels program, according to Corn. In many cases, the food the program serves is the only hot meal many elderly Oklahomans receive each day.
Corn, D-Poteau, criticized DHS commissioners for making the nutrition program shoulder virtually the entire round of budget cuts.
As a veteran of the appropriations committee during the budget problems in 2002 and 2003, Corn said he understands revenue shortfalls require cuts.
“But absent legislative intervention, the cuts will continue to be automatically applied and will cause irreversible harm, especially to our most vulnerable citizens,” Corn said.