POSTED: Monday, August 2, 2010 - 6:06pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 4:08pm
El Paso, TX - El Paso County is faced with a major budget shortfall. The county is tens of millions of dollars in the red. A big part of the community may take the brunt of the cuts.
Every afternoon more than 90 seniors come to the South El Paso Senior Center for lunch. Carmen Baffrey is one of many who rely on these lunches as their only full meal of the day.
"This is where we all come to enjoy a conversation with our friends, people our age. people who are poor like myself, i'm very poor..in fact some have no income so sometimes they are able to get a sandwich or whatever they're having," states Baffrey.
Soon, sandwiches may be hard to come by. Last week El Paso County Commissioners voted to strip senior lunches from the upcoming budget, a move that saves nearly $200,000.
Commissioner Veronica Escobar is hoping to overturn the decision. Escobar argues one can't put a price on the well being of our oldest community members.
"Some of our most vulnerable get access to healthy meals. but it's also about program that does more than just serve meals to senior citizens. it creates friendships and a social environment where seniors are taking care of one another," Escobar said.
Baffrey and others count on social interaction at the Senior Center.
"The majority of we seniors, we live alone. We live alone and we have no one to talk to. This is a place where we come and talk to people," the 79 year-old said.
The County has yet to finalize a budget, and the cuts are not yet set in stone. Commissioners will vote on the budget in the beginning of October.