Thousands of seniors in Central Fla. at risk of losing government assistance



CENTRAL FLORIDA - WFTV found thousands of seniors in central Florida are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

Most receive government assistance, but some of those benefits could soon be cut.

"I came here today because we are out of money and out of food, and bless their hearts, they give it to us," said resident Mary Ann Darden.

Darden, 75, told WFTV reporter Myrt Price she has to provide for herself and her two disabled sons, who are unable to hold down steady jobs.

"I try to get a job, but I'm too old," said Darden.

She receives Social Security, but doesn't qualify for food stamps.

In order to keep food on the table, she relies on charities like Community Food and Outreach.

Executive Director Andrae Bailey said he sees more seniors like Darden every day.

"Some of these people have nothing to eat and no place to go when they show up on our doorstep," Bailey said.

At Community Food and Outreach, they are provided food, clothing, crisis services and, if possible, they help them find jobs and connect them to other safety-net programs.

Bailey said most of the seniors receive some type of government assistance, but it's not enough.

Congress could put many entitlement programs on the chopping block, but Bailey said the consequences would be dire.

Officials said, without government assistance and some of the services they provide, some seniors could end up homeless or could starve.

"I don't know how people are going to make it if they start cutting benefits," said Darden.