JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For several years, Bill Hutchinson has enjoyed the city's Meals on Wheels delivery program.
"It is a shame that this came about," the 71-year-old said. "It is just not right."
Recently, the program suspended all meal deliveries to his front door. He is upset and disappointed.
"I've had some rough times, I've had some rough times," he said.
He said the program operated fine until last summer. Hutchinson said that's when he was introduced to Homemaker Care services as part of Meals on Wheels. It required him to pay a $32 a month co-pay based on his fixed income. He was reluctant.
"I said I can't do that, I don't have the extra money," Hutchinson said.
Yet, he signed the agreement, hoping for a reduced rate.
When the former JSO reserve officer failed to make his co-payments, his Meals on Wheels stopped. The service suspended until he paid the past due amount of nearly $200.
"You won't get any food from us they said," Hutchinson said. "You won't get any services from us until you pay that money."
Defiant, he is fighting back and said he's been eating peanut butter sandwiches ever since.
The program is operated by Aging True Community Senior Services.
"It is a program that has a co-pay assignment," said Terri Barton, the CEO of Aging True Community Senior Services. "That is part of the process when he enrolled."
Barton said Hutchinson is enrolled in what's called the Community Care for the Elderly Program. She said it is the state that requires the co-pay fee. While privacy laws prohibit her from discussing the specifics of his case, she said it is not closed.
"It was never closed," Barton said. "His services have been suspended until we can get all of the information to make a determination."
She said it's a determination of his true income and compliance.
Also as part of the assessment, they will look into putting him on a payment plan or maybe review his eligibility for a waiver.
"We are working toward a resolution," she said.
Barton said they're scheduled to meet with Hutchinson next Wednesday and a resolution could come then.
"What do I want to see?," he asked. "I want my food back."
Barton said what they offer is not an entitlement program. There are rules and clients have to be compliant.
She underscored that the goal of Aging True is always to make sure the clients are safe; they have adequate resources.