Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe
LOCAL SENIOR citizens dine on a breakfast buffet at the Mill Street Garden in Bessemer Friday. Many seniors who attended the event signed paper plates as part of the national “Don’t Empty My Plate” campaign through the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency, in opposition of federal budget cuts for senior nutritional programs.
BESSEMER — Local senior citizens are voicing their opinions about cuts in federal funding for senior programs nationwide through a medium that they are not necessarily familiar with.
Seniors have been writing messages to state representatives on plates through the “Don’t Empty My Plate” campaign. According to Chris Trolla, senior programs director for the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency, the response has been good.
“We’ve had a lot of seniors participate, by writing messages, telling them to stop budget cuts,” Trolla said. “It’s been going very well.”
While the fiscal year budget for 2014 has already been reduced, the campaign is designed to support a movement to end sequestration by Sept. 30, or to have senior nutrition program exempted from sequestration.
“If it doesn’t happen by Sept. 30, this will be in place for nine years, as part of the deficit reduction plan that was presented by President Obama,” Trolla said.
While some seniors were aware of Obama’s plan, many did not know about cuts to their nutrition programs.
“They might have been aware about the plan, but some didn’t understand it fully,” Trolla said. “We have a lot of people who come to our sites in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties, so we are very busy all the time, and this gives them a chance to have their opinions and voices heard.”
Trolla plans on giving the plates to State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) on July 4, if Dianda visits Bessemer for the annual Fourth of July celebration. However, if he does not visit, she said that the plates will be sent to Lansing.
“We want to have our voices heard, and the goal is to have this ended or excluded,” Trolla said.
For more information, call Trolla at GOCAA at 906-667-0283.