Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: October 22, 2009
Sen. Patrick Anderson
Sen. Anderson Urges Governor to Fill Senior
Nutrition Program Budget Gaps
Sen. Patrick Anderson sent Governor Brad Henry a letter Wednesday
asking him to use the Governor's discretionary funds to help replace
the cuts in funding to the state's senior nutrition programs. Due
to recent revenue shortfalls, the Department of Human Services approved
a $7.4 million cut to these programs, which will go into affect
"The Governor has several million dollars in discretionary
funding from the federal stimulus package that could be used to
fill the gaps in this program's budget, and I've asked the Governor
to use a small portion of those funds to help shore up the Senior
Nutrition Centers around the State until the Legislature can reconvene
and address this issue," said Anderson, R-Enid. "I can't
think of a better use for the Governor's discretionary money than
to help ensure that our seniors don't have to go without a meal."
The Senator said that seniors in rural Oklahoma will suffer the
most. In his letter, he explained how a program in his district,
the Wheatheart Nutrition Project, has been forced to cut its budget
by over $230,000. That amounts to a thirty-eight percent (38%) cut
in the program's total budget.
The Wheatheart program provides daily meals to 970 seniors in Alfalfa,
Grant, Kay, Garfield, Noble, Blaine, Kingfisher and Major Counties.*
Due to the budget cut, though, they will be closing two kitchens
and furloughing employees for 44 of the next 160 working days. In
addition, they will no longer be serving meals at Senior Nutrition
Centers on Fridays.
"This is only one example of what these budget cuts are doing
to senior nutrition programs around the state. Many centers are
looking at closing their doors all together, furloughing or even
letting employees go; and rural Oklahoma will be hardest hit because
seniors have no other alternatives to turn to like they may have
in larger cities," said Anderson. "We must do what we
can to keep these nutrition programs running and nutrition sites
Anderson said the importance of the programs is far-reaching.
"These programs provide more than just meals…they provide
companionship, a sense of community and an opportunity to check
on the welfare of many of our most vulnerable citizens. Furthermore,
cutting these programs in the coming winter months could have devastating
effects on our elderly population. So I hope the Governor will act
quickly and direct the use of his discretionary funds to help protect
our seniors from these program cuts."
*Wheatheart's nutrition sites are located in Billings, Blackwell,
Cherokee, Enid, Garber, Helena, Kingfisher, Medford, Newkirk, Perry,
Ponca City, Pond Creek, Ringwood, Tonkawa, Watonga and Waukomis.
For more information contact:
Senator Anderson: 405-521-5630