DeLauro meets with seniors in Wallingford

Rosa DeLauro

Rosa DeLauro

WALLINGFORD — U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro told a crowd at the town’s Senior Center Wednesday that today’s elderly “deserve a break” from attempts by the Trump administration to either cut or completely eliminate programs that are important to their survival.

“After meeting essential expenses, one-third of senior households have no money that is left over,” DeLauro, D-3, said. “You deserve a dignified retirement.”

One example DeLauro cited was the federal Community Development Block Grant Program, which provides a portion of the funding used to run the Meals on Wheels. The program is the nation’s oldest and largest nutrition program for seniors, using volunteer drivers to bring food to elderly individuals who can’t make it to local senior centers.

Despite the efforts of the Trump administration to eliminate the federal funding component of Meals on Wheels, DeLauro said lawmakers were able to secure more than $3.3 billion for the program in 2018.

“These are vital programs that should not be cut,” she said. “We should be expanding them.”

DeLauro was quick to credit Republican lawmakers who voted with their Democrat counterparts to support programs that help seniors.

“We’re in the minority,” she said of referring to the number of Democrats in both the House and Senate. “We can’t do it alone.”

William Viola Jr., executive director of the Wallingford Senior Center, said the primary concern those who use the facility have with the federal government is preserving Social Security and Medicare at current levels.

“They don’t want to lose what they already have,” Viola said. “Some of them are having trouble making it now.”

That’s why protecting funding for senior nutrition programs is so important, Viola said. While the town provides some funding for two meals programs the Senior Center offers in addition to a federal one, not every local senior center is as fortunate, he said.

“For some of the regulars who come here, what they get is their main meal,” Viola said. “It’s not always easy to cook for one and a lot of them aren’t buying food that is as nutritious as what they get here.”