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Meals on Wheels Program Will Not Be Eliminated by Federal Budget

20 March, 2017, 20:38 | Author: Mae Harvey
  • KMUW file

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the community development block grant program that Trump targeted for elimination, couldn't say how much of that money ultimately flows to Meals on Wheels.

The popular program - which mainly uses volunteer drivers to provide hot meals to older Americans across the country - doesn't directly receive federal funding. "The Block Grant accounts for about 3% of Meals on Wheels" budget. For those who believe Meals on Wheels is worthy of federal tax dollars, they should keep in mind that donations don't address the whole issue.

"It's not just a meal, but a wellness check", Noe said. "Federal funding is at risk", says the homepage of the nonprofit's website, "Help us defend these vital services today".

"It's reassuring that the public has stepped up", Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America told CNN.

"The good news that it has rallied folks around the cause and reminded folks that they can't really take these kinds of services for granted", said Patrick Rowan, executive director of Metro Meals on Wheels.

But the 5,000 local Meals on Wheels offices, which do the layman's work of providing the meals and services to seniors, receive a significant chunk of their money from funding that could be on the chopping block.

Five organizations administer the Meals on Wheels program in the Houston area, including Interfaith Ministries.

But Trump's proposal - known as the "skinny budget" because it's the first, vague outline of a more formal submission to come - is largely silent about the program that provides the vast majority of federal funding for senior services.

Some local organizations also gain additional funding Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

Bertolette says there would be a "more sweeping negative impact" on Meals on Wheels if that funding shrinks. "This budget would add insult to injury".

Since Trump's budget was announced, Meals on Wheels have seen an increase in donations.

"We've spent $150 billion on those programs since the 1970s", Mulvaney said, referring to the block grants.

Mike Mulvaney, director of Office of Management and Budget, defended the budget when asked if it was "hard-hearted" to those in need. "No one wants to cut anything", told the CNN panel, "And I think that was the most revealing thing, as it often is, that we can not have a grown-up conversation about actually making priorities in government". I say "yet" though.

But scientific studies have found Meals on Wheels programs are effective in improving nutrition among the elderly. Group president Katherine Krause called the proposed budget cuts concerning. "It is one I would never vote to cut even one dollar".

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