SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County agreed this week to provide nearly $36,000 in funding to maintain a senior nutrition program.
On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously to transfer $35,566 from the county’s contingency fund to MAC Inc. Area Agency on Aging to maintain funding for its Senior Nutrition Services program.
“They represent four counties, and there was a funding shortage,” Assistant Director of Administration Weston Young told the council this week. “There was some conversation back in the spring about Wicomico covering the full amount and getting reimbursed from the three other counties, but this is purely for Wicomico County’s portion of this.”
MAC, which stands for Maintaining Active Citizens, serves seniors in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties by providing services that preserve health and independence.
In May, the agency announced statewide funding reallocations would reduce its budget for Senior Nutrition Services – including its Meals on Wheels program – by $113,000, or 46%, effective July 1.
Patti Tingle, executive director for MAC Inc., explained the agency’s nutrition services program provides more than 300 meals to senior citizens in Wicomico County each day. Without the needed funding, she said MAC has had to reevaluate its budget.
“To cut that percentage down would either mean that we stop feeding that number of people, we reduce the number of meals, and we begin to look at either cutting out routes or laying off staff,” she said.
Tingle told the council community members and civic organizations have rallied around the agency since announcing the budget reallocations. But she said donations will not be able to sustain the program.
While he said he support the agency’s request, Council President John Cannon told Tingle he would like to see funding restored at the state level.
“This is $35,566 for now,” he said. “Even though we certainly support the MAC center so much, I think the local jurisdictions are always somewhat reluctant to subsidize the state of Maryland’s commitment.”
Councilman Joe Holloway pointed out that MAC’s Meals on Wheels program offered more than nutritional services.
“Not only are you providing meals for these folks, sometimes this is the only interaction they get from anybody else during the day,” he said.
“It’s not unusual for our drivers … to enter a home and find an individual on the floor, to find some of their housing in disrepair, to find gas leaks,” she said. “So we are addressing issues far beyond that of simple nutrition.”
With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously to approve the $35,566 in funding to MAC Inc.