Proposed Iowa State budget cuts could impact senior citizen meal program

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- Every weekday Quad City senior citizen Joe Peterson opens up his door to a piping hot meal.

He's just one of dozens who rely on the Milestone's Area Agency on Aging meal program.

"Well I think it's really a blessing," said Peterson.

Peterson first got on the program after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. After a successful surgery he was able to recover, but then his wife was diagnosed with cancer and had one of her lungs removed. Now they both receive meals daily.

"Our seniors, they depend so much on the food that we provide to them," said Dave Curlott, delivery driver and retired math teacher.

The agency provides meals for 17 counties including Scott County and since July of 2017 they've delivered more than 50,000 meals.

But funding cuts have taken a toll on the program. Last year, they lost almost half a million dollars from the State of Iowa and as a result laid 25 staff members were let go and hours were cut from another 15-20 staff members.

Yet again, they face another possible cut to their already lean operations. Iowa GOP Senators are proposing a $52 million dollar cut to the state's budget, if passed the agency could lose $90,000 dollars. 

According to Milestone's Area Agency on Aging CEO Becky Passman says that cut equals about 10,000 meals for seniors.

“Everyone is working hard so very few services as possible are cut, but we’re getting to the point where we are running out of options," said Passman.

Passman says a letter along with dozens of plates with a message from seniors, will be sent to Iowa legislators.

" It’s been pretty tough on both of us, so this has been a big help. I don’t know what we’d do if we lost it I’m hoping (it) will be okay," said Peterson.

More than 100 seniors are served daily meals weekly in Scott County and almost 30 are on a wait list for the program.