FORT WORTH -- High noon at the Handley Meadowbrook Community Center will tell you all you need to know about who Fort Worth's senior programs serve, and why.
The room is buzzing as people eat lunch, visit with each other, and play games like dominos or rummikub.
"I enjoy the people, the companionship," said 70-year-old Ted Willis. "I'm not sitting at home knitting or watching TV."
Dozens of seniors come to the center daily for food, friendship, and fun. The services are offered free of charge at eight different city-owned locations in Cowtown. The programs are run by an organization called Senior Citizen Services of Greater Tarrant County.
"It's about 300 to 500 a day that we serve in For Worth," said the organization's CEO, Jerry Mosman.
That number's even bigger when you consider the other Tarrant County locations. There are 26 in all, servicing about 1,000 seniors a day, Mosman says. There are other locations in Fort Worth, too, but they aren't city-affiliated.
"Everybody’s living longer. This is the new reality," Mosman said of the numbers they serve.
For the past few years, Mosman says he's asked the city of Fort Worth for $160,000 a year to help run the eight Fort Worth-affiliated programs. Instead, they've offered half that -- $80,000 -- out of its billion-dollar-plus budget.
This year is no different. The budget, which is slated to be adopted Tuesday, offers $80,000 to the organization.
Mosman says that amount has meant having to lay off center directors, and the seniors have noticed a change in the program's quality.
"They’ve been telling me and my staff we deserve better than this, and we agree with them," Mosman said.
So, 126 of the senior citizens who enjoy these programs made a decision to show up en masse at City Council Tuesday night to speak before the budget vote and let their voices be heard.
"It was almost like a slap in the face -- an insult to us seniors," Willis said of the budget decisions.
For its part, City Hall says it's now offering an extra $40,000 while it conducts a study on the senior programs in Tarrant County as a stop-gap, temporary measure. And the organization does point out it receives funds from other entities, as well.
But the seniors hope the powers that be will bulk up the budget for this aging, but growing, group.
Copyright 2016 WFAA