As Louisiana lawmakers continue to slash the state budget, no one is safe, not even senior citizens who depend on services from the Caddo Council on Aging for basic necessities such as food.
"I'm so disappointed that they're even thinking about cutting the meals for the elderly. They've worked their whole lives and they need help," Patsy Bayless said.
Louisiana's budget crisis would affect some of the state's most vulnerable residents.
Each day Monday through Thursday, the Caddo Council on Aging delivers 1,040 meals.
"I think I get more out of it than they do, I just love it," said Bayless, a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program. She has been delivering food to home-bound senior citizens once a week for nearly 6 years.
Bayless learned Friday that the Council on Aging's budget is at risk.
"I feel like there's so much more they can cut than little people's meals," Bayless said. "They've worked hard all their life, and they need it, and they can't go get it themselves."
The Council on Aging faces a $250,000 decrease in funding from the Governor's Office on Elderly Affairs.
"That's where we'll see more of the budget cuts because they'll have to cut our budgets in transportation, home-delivered meals," said Mary Alice Rountree, executive director of the Council on Aging. "We get state money for meals; we get state money for transportation."
Also at risk: 65 percent of the $3,000 the Council on Aging receives each year for supplemental affairs. That's $1,950 a year that covers a little bit of all of its programs.
Last year, the Council on Aging delivered more than 270,000 meals to senior citizens, costing the program a little less than $1.3 million.
The cuts would cause a reduction of services the Council on Aging offers, including the meal deliveries.
That's something Bayless says cannot happen. "They're dependent on it. Some of them, I know for sure that's all they get all day."
The New Orleans Council on Aging says its budget will be reduced by more than $500,000. That means 25 senior meals will be eliminated per day from its Meals on Wheels program, and some senior citizen centers could close.