Federal budget cuts affect Las Cruces senior programs

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Las Cruces is consistently ranked as one of the top places to retire. Many attribute it to the variety of senior programs the city offers.

Recent federal budget cuts are creating uncertainty for the future of some senior programs.

Each year the Meals on Wheels program delivers more than 130,000 meals to seniors.

Seniors who use the program told ABC-7 it's a big help.

Every weekday morning, Ben Porter has a hot meal delivered to his home. Porter lives alone and has multiple sclerosis, so even the tiniest task is a struggle.

"My life can be described as tired. I'm always exhausted. I swim and I go to church and that's all I do. It's good to have a break. these guys are real nice every morning," Porter said.

Eight vans filled with food deliver meals to about 300 seniors each day.

"It's been a great help for me. I can't go to the store and buy food. I'm afraid to leave the fire on that I forget sometimes but it's good to have a hot meal everyday," said Rita Ontiveros, a senior who has her meals delivered.

The program receives more than $19,000 from the federal government each year. Recent federal budget cuts will reduce that by around $1,300. That comes out to about 203 fewer meals for seniors.

Senior programs coordinator Lori Grumet told ABC-7 the city is fortunate enough to have the funds to cover those meals for now.

"It could affect next year and of course we don't know what's going to develop with the federal budget," Grumet said.

As baby boomers start to retire, Grumet said the city will have to budget for increased demand and hope for lots of donations.

"We are required to spend donations on raw food first before we spend federal or state money, so as we budget every year, we factor in numbers of donations we received the previous year," she said.

For now, Porter and hundreds of other seniors can rest assured they'll have a hot meal at their doorstep.

"I'm really grateful for the food. It's good. I don't leave any uneaten. I don't throw any away," Porter said.

Meals on Wheels is available to seniors older than 60 who live within city limits. For more information, call 575-541-2301.

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