Some Connecticut seniors could be going hungry, due to budget cuts in one city.
Budget cuts at the first meal delivery program in the state were causing some major cutbacks. Dozens of seniors go to the Middletown Senior Center to socialize, but for some said it's more than just making friends, it's a necessary meal.
At 92 years old, Frank Greco comes to the senior center in Middletown ready to dish out a hot meal provided by the Community Renewal Team, also known as CRT.
“The people need this. This is their main food for them,” Greco said.
For 40 years, CRT, who gets their funds from the agency on aging, had enough money to serve 77,000 meals a year. CRT said their grant was slashed by more than $100,000 and can now only serve 51,000 meals.
“It makes all of us very sad because this is what we do. We provide for all our seniors,” Vice President of Senior Services CRT Gus Keach said.
They came up with a plan to stretch the program all year long. Starting on Wednesday, they'll cut back to serving just three days a week instead of five and they’ll have to cut the number of people they serve in half.
“We have a cutoff of 16 meals. 16 people can get their meals. After that they're waiting,” CRT volunteer Vanessa said.
If they didn't take this route, they say they'd have to stop serving in June.
“When they put the paper down for us to sign, there's a mad rush for the paper to sign because there's so many left out,” Irene Battistini said.
CRT is run independently and only uses the space at Middletown's senior center. Battistini said she comes there daily to take advantage of the meals, but doesn't need them. She's at Middletown's senior center to catch up with friends. But she's now forced to make a tough decision, socialize or potentially have someone else go hungry.
“I know there's budget cutbacks, but this isn't the way to go, not with one of the most vulnerable parts of the population,” Battistini said.
“It breaks my heart because these people depend on these meals every single day,” Vanessa said.
Then, there's Greco who said he serving others was part of his routine and it's not going to be easy to adjust.
“They worked all their life and a meal like that means a lot to them,” Greco said.
To try and make up the funding they've lost, directors have gone directly to the towns and even local businesses to try to see if they can get them to some sponsor some days.
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