State Senator Fights to Restore Funding to Senior Nutrition Programs
By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9
EDMOND, Oklahoma -- There may be a last ditch effort to keep the kitchen open at a metro senior center that recently stopped serving meals.
The meal program in Edmond was the only viable nutrition site to be entirely shut down, because of a bad budget last year. A viable site is one that serves more than 25 meals per day.
This week, there was still a small crowd at the Edmond Senior Center since the senior nutrition plan lost its state funding. The kitchen was closed and a handful of seniors brought their own lunches.
The cuts to the senior center don’t sit well with Edmond Mayor Patrice Douglas.
“Edmond is fully willing to take its fair share of cuts. We're not willing to have our site completely closed,” said Mayor Douglas.
Governor Henry reportedly told Democratic Senator Kenneth Corn he is willing to restore funding to DHS' senior nutrition program if House and Senate leadership agrees. Gov. Henry said Senator Pro Tem Glenn Coffee and House Speaker Chris Benge must agree before funding is restored.
“If those three leaders today would go back and say ‘Hey, fund the nutrition sites.’ They could go back to providing meals to senior citizens in the state uninterrupted,” Sen. Corn said.
Senator Corn has been protesting the cuts since the announcement was made last week and is currently collecting signatures to get the funding restored. He is calling for a special session on this issue.
“It's something it says about our values when we take hot meals away from senior citizens in Oklahoma,” Senator Corn said.
Nelson Eley couldn't agree more.
“There's a lot of people that came here that can't afford a meal so it was a good deal. But I don't know. They just made a mess of it,” Eley said.
About $7.4 million was taken from the program because of budget cuts. Officials say despite Edmond's perception as an affluent community, nearly 500 seniors are living below the poverty line.
Governor Henry, Speaker Benge and Senate Pro Tem Coffee all told NEWS 9 there is no deal yet on this program, but all options are being considered.