Central Florida senior citizen programs lose thousands in federal cuts



ORLANDO, Fla. - Central Florida seniors are starting to feel the effects of federal budget cuts.

Since April 1, groups that help seniors have lost more than half a million dollars in funding.

Channel 9's Racquel Asa learned they're having to cut services to make up for the loss.

Inside the Claudia Allen Senior Center, 90-year-old Elsie Walker doesn't just get in her daily exercise, it's also her place to socialize.

"And I still got the fellas whistling at me," she said.

It's also where she eats at least one meal a day, but Walker's center was just spared.

Orange County's Seniors First just lost $186,000, which means the organization will have to close five sites that serve meals.

"I don't know what I would do if I didn't have this place," said Walker.

Other counties aren't far behind.

Brevard and Volusia counties each lost about $120,000. Seminole and Lake lost about $70,00 while Osceola lost nearly $50,000.

Each county can't add any more seniors to their programs.

The waiting list for Meals on Wheels in Orange County is 500 and growing.

Seniors First CEO Marsha Lorenz said she thinks the cuts are shortening the lives of senior citizens and has long-term, devastating effects on their health and emotional well-being.

"Keep this going, because this keeps me going," said Walker. "If you kill the program, you are going to kill me. Let me live while I can."

Senior organizations said they're now having to rely even more on donations.

Senior Oraganization Donations: Orange | Seminole | Osceola | Brevard | Volusia | Lake