DeLauro visits Valley seniors to weigh effects of meals cuts

CAFCA | April 22, 2013 |

 Possible cuts to the federally funded Meals on Wheels program administered by TEAM Inc. brought U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, to the Valley Monday.

DeLauro rode with Meals on Wheels driver Ron Boucher to homes of three Ansonia senior citizens.

She wanted to see firsthand who would be hurt if federal funds for the anti-hunger program were cut due to sequestration.

First stop was Helen Majoros, 91, who is unable to leave her house.

She told DeLauro getting a nutritious meal each day gives her “dignity.”

DeLauro said such visits mean more than just a meal.

Whoever sees a homebound senior every day checks up on the person, she said, “and it becomes a wellness visit.”

DeLauro visited Ed Krystopik, 86, who said he has lived in his Hilltop house since 1962. He was recently widowed. Krystopik is an Army veteran of World War II.

He said his daughter lives out-of-state and he relies on Meals on Wheels deliveries.

DeLauro said, “We’re going to work to make sure we keep the program going.”

After visiting the seniors, DeLauro went to the Seymour Housing Authority’s Callahan House. That’s where TEAM’s Senior Community Cafes is located.

DeLauro hosted a roundtable discussion with residents at Callahan House who participate in TEAM’s senior nutrition program there.

Laura Bengivengo, 97, told DeLauro she enjoys the food.

“The meals are plentiful and the portions are real portions,” she said. “I come down (for the meals) three times a week,” she said. “At home I can cook too and regulate my fat and salt.”

Ansonia Mayor James Della Volpe joined the discussion at Callahan House.

Della Volpe said Meals on Wheels delivery is the only time some people have contact with the outside world.

“It’s an extremely important program,” Della Volpe said.

Also present was Lucy Nolan, executive director, End Hunger Connecticut. She said there is a real need for the nutrition program and “it makes me very upset to see it’s the seniors — older adults — getting cut.”

DeLauro vowed to take what she learned Monday back to Congress and urge lawmakers to “find other ways to cut back.”

According to a release from DeLauro’s office, TEAM Inc.’s Homebound Program serves 348 seniors in Ansonia, Derby, Seymour, Oxford and Shelton through Meals on Wheels.

They serve an average of 53,244 meals a year, spending $4.92 on each meal. They are facing a $12,000 cut in federal funding, which will result in 15 seniors being cut from the program.

The release said the senior nutrition program serves 298 seniors in those same towns, serving a total of 10,588 meals last year at an average cost of $5.74 a meal.

They are facing a $3,648 cut in federal funding, which will result in 18 seniors being unable to get their meals at any given time.

Last May, DeLauro received the National Meals on Wheels’ first “Platinum Plate Award” for her “leadership in raising awareness and working to address the issue of hunger in America.”