OKLAHOMA CITY State Senator Jeff Rabon is urging the head of the Department of Human Services and commission members not to cut a program that provides hot meals to tens of thousands of elderly Oklahomans.
Senator Rabon said the commission could vote to eliminate all funding to the Community Expansion for Nutritional Assistance Program during tomorrow's Human Services Commission meeting.
"CENA grants provide funding to independent senior citizens centers across our state. These centers get no other federal or state money. They survive on private fundraising, donations and with the help of the CENA program," explained Rabon, D-Hugo.
Senator Rabon has written to DHS Director Howard Hendrick asking the commission to look elsewhere in the budget to make cuts.
"In April 2000, more than 27 thousand Oklahomans got hot meals at these centers. I think we could safely estimate that number is even higher today. But if the Commission votes to eliminate the $2.7 million CENA budget, many of these centers will have to cut programs and some may be forced to close altogether," said Rabon.
"I realize we are in the midst of a budget crisis, but cutting programs that could leave some of our most vulnerable citizens without adequate nutrition could be more costly in the long run. Often it is because of senior citizens centers and the services they provide that so many of our elderly are able to remain in their own homes, instead of nursing homes that cost thousands a month. I strongly urge Mr. Hendrick and the members of the commission to consider the terrible impact this could have, both short-term and long-term for our older citizens and for our state," said Rabon.