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Funding cuts impact senior meals

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MERRILLVILLE | Reduced state and federal funding for senior citizen nutrition programs will impact services for about 100 Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana clients.

Tula Gogolak, the organization's director of community relations and development, said clients whose meals were funded by those programs will have their meals reduced or eliminated.

Funding also has been cut for the organization's emergency meals program, said Sandra Noe, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana.

Noe said emergency meals are provided during the winter so clients can store them in their homes in case Meals on Wheels is unable to deliver food because of weather conditions or other issues.

Gogolak said Northwest Indiana Community Action Corp. notified Meals on Wheels of the reduced funding earlier this month. Northwest Indiana Community Action Corp. is an area Agency on Aging that manages federal and state funding for local nutrition programs, Noe said.

Meals on Wheels prepares nearly 2,000 meals each day for Lake County senior citizens in need.

Besides reducing meals, the cuts also impact socialization for senior citizens, Noe said.

Some clients don't have many opportunities to interact with people, and the socialization they receive when meals are delivered is important to the clients, Noe said.

Meals on Wheels will conduct aggressive fundraising strategies to reinstate meals for the impacted clients, Gogolak said.

Last year, several Meals on Wheels clients were at risk of losing meals, but a $5,000 grant and contributions from the community helped restore services to clients.

"We can't do it alone," Gogolak said. "We really need the full support of the community."

People can support Meals on Wheels by attending or sponsoring its annual Dine with the Chefs Gala on Feb. 27 at Avalon Manor in Hobart.

People also can donate directly to the organization or volunteer their time to deliver meals to those in need.

Contact Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana at (219) 756-3663 for information about the organization and ways to help.

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