Vermont Meals on Wheels Needs More Funding

Essex, Vt. - As national cuts for the Meals on Wheels program have been talked about, the Vermont Program has not been hit. However, the need for meals is going up while funding has stayed the same for decades.

Peter Carmolli is the Executive Director for Burlington Meals on Wheels. He's been volunteering for more than 20 years.

"Every morning I get up and I know I'm going to be doing something for the betterment of others and that's quite a nice gift," Carmolli said.

Carmolli usually delivers to a woman named Marguerite Desany who has received meals for seven years after getting a double knee replacement.

"I did have to get my own meals and I don't have to now and I really enjoy it," Desany said. "I don't have to cook."

Carmolli said Burlington Meals on Wheels is contracted with Age Well in Essex, Vt. Age Well is the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in the state serving four counties: Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin. 

According to Age Well, they served over 225,000 Meals on Wheels last year and an additional 100,000 meals at congregate meal sites for those that are able to get out of the home.

Chris Moldovan the Nutrition Director at Age Well explained, "The federal cutbacks have not officially impacted us because we receive the Older Americans Act funding for our Meals on Wheels program. So we have not seen immediate cuts but we're fearful in the future we may see increased cuts."

However, funding for Vermont Meals on Wheels has just about stayed the same for 20 years while the need for meals is going up.

John Michael Hall is the CEO of Age Well and explained why they need more funding.

"There's a bigger and bigger gap between what it costs between ringing the doorbell and provide that doorbell and what we receive for funding," Hall said. "So our worst nightmare is that government backs away."   

Age Well, as well as Carmolli, said it's more than a meal. The Meals on Wheels service is a safety check and for some the only visitor that comes to the door. Desany thinks so too.

"It's a wonderful thing that they're providing and I hope it doesn't go anywhere," Desany said.

According to Meals on Wheels America, reductions in federal funding would only make matters worse as the demand continues to grow. Their most recent data shows 57-million seniors rely on it while the senior population is expected to double by 2050.


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