Wicomico Delays Vote On Meals On Wheels Funding

SALISBURY – The Wicomico County Council said it has postponed voting on a request to provide funding for a senior nutrition program.

In May, MAC Inc. Area Agency on Aging announced statewide funding reallocations would reduce its budget for Senior Nutrition Services – including Meals on Wheels – by $113,000, or 46%, effective July 1.

The agency said the funding cuts will impact 120 to 150 seniors, create extended waiting lists for nutrition services and ultimately result in a reduction of more than 15,000 meals for seniors on the lower Eastern Shore.

Earlier this month, however, Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver issued a statement saying he had requested the council’s help in supporting the local Meals on Wheels program.

“The loss in funds amounts to an approximate reduction of 15,000 meals for the Meals on Wheels program,” a statement from Culver reads. “I have made a request to the County Council to approve funds from the County’s Contingency Account.”

MAC, which stands for Maintaining Active Citizens, serves seniors in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties by providing services that preserve health and independence.

And while it recognizes the impact the funding cuts would have on the Meals on Wheels program, the county council last week issued its own statement explaining why it has yet to address Culver’s request.

“The Wicomico County Executive has requested authorization for an immediate transfer of the total funding shortage of $113,000 from the County’s contingency fund to MAC, Inc. so they can continue senior nutrition services,” the statement reads. “It seems reasonable, however, for us to see if we can, first, restore this funding on a state level, not only for this year, but to guarantee protections for future years.”

The council said it has sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan expressing its concern regarding the funding cuts made to MAC and requesting the funds be restored. The council also shared its efforts to work with the local delegation to address the matter.

“In addition, the Wicomico County Council feels it is necessary to point out that MAC, Inc. serves four counties (Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester), all of whom are impacted by these funding cuts,” the statement reads. “Such substantive funding, as proposed, would have Wicomico citizens subsidizing a program in support of all four counties and we don’t think that is an equitable solution.”

For that reason, the council said it would delay voting on any request to use $113,000 in contingency funding.

“The Wicomico County Council has, therefore, postponed voting on the Executive’s proposal to approve funding to MAC, Inc., in the amount of $113,000 until there is a better understanding of the state’s true intentions and a more accurate understanding of our exact obligations,” the statement reads.

Culver also called on the community to support the Meals on Wheels program through donations. In recent weeks, MAC Inc. began distributing donation jars in each of the four counties it serves.

“Donations cans have been distributed in and around businesses in the County,” a statement from Culver reads. “A $7.50 donation will feed a person for a day. Your donations will be greatly appreciated.”

MAC officials added that residents in Wicomico County can visit the MAC center, “sign out a jar,” fill it with change and return it to the facility by the end of June.

“However the money is collected, it will serve a single purpose: to raise funds for MAC’s Meals on Wheels program,” a statement read.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.