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Fri, Jan. 17

Pima County meals program facing crisis; Prescott Meals on Wheels doing OK

TUCSON - A program that provides meals for 1,400 elderly people in Pima County 23 days of every month is in a financial crisis.

Soaring gas and food prices have outpaced Pima Meals on Wheels' budget and program leaders say they will likely have to reduce the number of client visits they make.

In Prescott, the Meals on Wheels program had a "rocky" last year-plus, but has "weathered the storm," said Dave Marston, president of the Prescott board.

The concern for Pima Meals on Wheels' leaders is that slashing visits will deprive their elderly clients of social contact. An important aspect of the program is that it helps their clients stay in their homes, rather than go to a nursing home or other center.

Pima Meals on Wheels has a budget of $2.4 million, which is a blend of public and private money. The budget has remained stagnant in recent years while gas and food prices grew more expensive.

Marston said Prescott's program has "whittled back expenses" and is "moving forward." He added that proceeds from a car raffle this spring helped.

"We have not had to cut back services," Marston said of the Prescott program, which delivers to more than 150 people each week and serves more than 100 people daily in its dining room.

Marston also said this fiscal year is the first in which the City of Prescott has helped - to the tune of $20,000 in operating expenses.

That is a small percentage of its overall budget, but "every bit helps," he said.

For more information about the Prescott program, to donate or volunteer, call 445-7630.

The Daily Courier contributed to this article.

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