What Trump's budget could mean for social programs like Meals on Wheels


Donations to Meals on Wheels, a nationwide network of organizations that provide home delivery services to the elderly, have soared since news broke of massive funding cuts in President Donald Trump's proposed budget.

Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler of the Department of Family and Support Services, said the city provides 2.4 million meals annually to 6,900 seniors in their homes at a cost of $8.6 million, with $1.8 million from CBDG funding and most of the rest from the Older Americans Act.

"It's like December levels of donation", said Courtney Trusty, spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, noting that the organization typically receives the most donations and inquiries about volunteering around the holiday season.

Warning that elderly people in Houston could "starve" if Meals on Wheels programs are sharply curtailed, activists and community service groups rallied Sunday in opposition to the president's proposed cuts to federal community support programs.

"We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good", said Mick Mulvaney, President Trump's budget director, defending the considered cuts, as reported by The New York Times.

Then there's the less tangible, but no less important, benefit of companionship provided by the volunteers who deliver the actual Meals on Wheels: As it was put Thursday by Jennifer Waggener, executive director of Faith in Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley in West Virginia: "Meals on Wheels is important for the nourishment". Trump's budget blueprint calls to slash programs within the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency, among others, in order to pump more money into defense.

The proposed cuts would have a major impact on the kind of work Meals on Wheels could perform. Every Meals on Wheels affiliate gets money from a different mix of state, local and federal government funds, along with individual donations and philanthropic organizations.

That means the program in the Detroit suburb could serve one meal a day instead of two, she said.

The Older Americans Act has been authorized through fiscal year 2019, meaning significant funding cuts to the chapter would be unlikely, said Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan.

There's also peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of Meals on Wheels.

The CDBG program is one of the ways states provide funding for Meals on Wheels.

"I just don't understand the attack on this program", she said. The Bell Gardens-based charity also hosts group meals for seniors in several Long Beach neighborhoods, as well as at locations in Bellflower and Cerritos.

White House officials question the effectiveness of programs such as Meals on Wheels.

Case explained that her local Meals on Wheels operates like many others, through a number of different funding sources. "I know what it's like to see someone I know receive it", the teen said. Donate $7, the dollar amount needed in subsidies to feed one senior one meal, and invite seven friends to do the same.