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Inland Empire News

Victorville Meals on Wheels sees funding emergency due to sequestration

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

San Bernardino County officials met in emergency mode Wednesday to see what can be done to save the Meals on Wheels program in Victorville, which is caught in a funding crisis and is facing closure.

Lunch was served at the Hi Desert Meals on Wheels just before noon Wednesday. Many rely on the center to eat.

The center serves about 300 seniors in the Victorville area. About half of them eat at the facility, the other half have the meals delivered.

So imagine Mary Guggenmos' surprise when she showed up on Tuesday, and the Meals on Wheels building was locked with a sign saying the program has been suspended.

"I came yesterday and everything was completely closed down," said Mary Guggenmos. "I made a 10-mile ride from Wal-Mart in Victorville to here and back. It was closed."

A lack of proper was behind the sudden closure.

"Federal sequestration has really had a very significant impact on our nutrition programs," said Debra Billings-Merlos with the county's Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Merlos says with sequestration, they've lost about 10 percent of their funding, enough to force the facility to temporarily close its doors.

"These programs, the different nutrition programs that exist throughout California, have to rely on outside donations in order to continue running," said Merlos.

Meals did resume Wednesday with help from another nutrition program from Barstow. The people who rely on Meals on Wheels are hoping for a more permanent solution, because they say this service is about more than just the food.

"This is my entertainment really, I get to talk to my friends, and it makes my day go by faster," said one woman.

Anyone who would like to help out the Hi Desert Meals on Wheels can call them directly at (760) 245-7047.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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