DCS: Help needed, meal funds cut

Santo Grande

CAMBRIDGE — Delmarva Community Services’ CEO Santo Grande spoke during the June 18 meeting of the Dorchester County Council, asking for support to make up for state cuts in funding DCS’ meals program for the elderly. Mr. Grande said the cuts were, “fundamentally discriminatory,” taking money from poor, rural counties in the state and sending it to Western Shore areas.

“We didn’t know this during budget discussions,” Mr. Grande said. “Our cut is about 60 percent in the meals program.”
DCS prepares about 300 meals a day, served to clients at the agency’s Senior Center, while others are delivered via the Meals on Wheels service.

The Maryland Department of Aging cut DCS’s meal funds from $46,228 to $18,523.

“This is truly a physical cut,” Mr. Grande said, not one that involves administrative functions. Without the meals provided by DCS, “We don’t know how they would eat,” he added.

“This is ridiculous,” Council President William Nichols (District 2) said. “There are some who live on this.”

Also reduced by the state was support for DCS’s Senior Information and Assistance Program, from $10,500 to $7,700. Led by Mary Handley, this office answers a wide variety of questions and offers help to older residents.

“They come in with problems,” Mr. Grande said. “They are suffering in some way.”

As an example, he pointed to health care, saying, “We have hundreds of seniors who come to us for Medicare Part D.”
He told the council members that state officials this year decided to follow funding guidelines that specify support based on population. That means that a county such as Montgomery – the richest in the nation – will receive more, while Dorchester, one of the state’s poorest, will get less.

“They reallocated our money, then,” Council Member Ricky Travers (District 3) said.

Council Member Lenny Pfeffer (District 4) had heard about the cuts. “It was a surprise to everyone,” he said.

While the staff and leadership at DCS continues to work through government channels to address the issue, they are also beginning to raise money on their own. Donation jars have been placed around the county, and DCS will hold a concert, “Sing for Their Supper,” on Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at DCS, located at 2450 Cambridge Beltway. Donations of any amount will be accepted at the door.

Artists Dion Banks, Michael Cornish, Emily Dupree, Toby Gearhart, John Handley, Jon Jacobs and Wooden Ships, Howard Lanman, Posie Lewis, Laura Malkus, Larry Roberts, Laura Todd, Anne Watts, Terry White, Maris Wicker and Melissa Wise Slacum will perform.

Ms. Handley said while she is glad to work to help the elderly in need, “It’s kind of sad we have to beg for money to feed seniors.”

The council agreed to work on a way to assist DCS.
“DCS is a 501c3 non-profit organization providing supports to individuals so they can remain independent in the community where they live,” a statement on the agency’s social media site says. “Facilitating senior centers, day and residential programs for individuals with disabilities, public transportation, respite care and financial assistance programs, and adult medical day care are just some of what we do.”

For information on DCS, call 410-221-1900.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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