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December 4, 2013

More funding sought for Meals on Wheels

Federal budget cuts have hurt program for seniors

(Continued)

“It’s important that people get the food they need,” Shaheen told them.

Many seniors would be forced to live in nursing homes if Meals on Wheels didn’t provide them meals, she said.

“For a lot of people, it’s helping them stay in their homes,” Shaheen said.

That includes Larry Somes, 85, and his wife Lillian, 78.

Lillian, who has macular degeneration, said her age and health have made it difficult for her to cook. Larry said he does a lot of the cooking, but it’s a challenge for him, too. Living on a fixed income is a problem as well, he said.

“The pension I got 25 years ago isn’t doing a lot now,” the retired Raytheon employee said.

Larry praised the Meals on Wheels program, but had some harsh words for political leaders. More needs to be done to help seniors, he said.

“Congress isn’t doing anything,” Larry said. “Things seem to be getting worse and worse.”

Shaheen said she would relay their concerns and need for the program to her colleagues in Congress.

One person who was concerned about the program was 87-year-old Dick Heald.

“I hope they don’t take it away,” he said.

“I’m hoping to try to save it,” Shaheen told him.

Heald and his wife, Elizabeth, are just two of 382 Salem residents served by Meals on Wheels last year. Of those 382, 95 are 85 or older, including Carol Rivard.

“I can’t cook, so I depend on that,” the 95-year-old said. “It helps out a lot.”

The program also serves 228 people in Derry, 135 in Londonderry and 119 in Hampstead, among residents of other Southern New Hampshire communities.

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