To the editor:
I am extremely disappointed with the recent budget passed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In particular, I want to highlight the impact it will have on crucial senior services.
This year’s budget calls for a 50 percent cut to the Meals on Wheels program, congregate meals at senior centers, transportation services for seniors, as well as the elimination of ServiceLink, which connects seniors to services available to them.
Over the years I have attended many congregate meals at numerous senior centers throughout northern New Hampshire. I thoroughly enjoy being part of the social atmosphere these dinners provide, as well as seeing the seniors appreciate a nutritious, delicious meal. After the meal, many of them remain at the center to relax, socialize, play various games, listen to entertainment, etc. I have seen firsthand the value of this wonderful program.
I had never actually participated in the Meals on Wheels program until last week, when I was able to join a Meals on Wheels driver during his rounds. It was an eye-opening experience.
In addition to having meals delivered to them, for many housebound seniors the deliverer is the only person they see all day. The driver I rode with explained to me the importance of checking in on these seniors to make sure they are safe. While many of them are experiencing difficult living situations, they are very appreciative just to see a smiling face. And, it is equally gratifying for the deliverer to visit with them.
I encourage all state senators as they prepare their budget to do as I did — take a ride with someone who delivers for the Meals on Wheels program. If they see firsthand what I saw, I doubt they will cut this valuable program along with the services being impacted by the House budget.
Indeed, all of the above programs help many seniors stay in their own homes/apartments at a much lower cost than their being in nursing homes.
My final thought. Can you imagine these vital services being cut by a staggering 50 percent? I can’t.
Michael J. Cryans