Meal program for homebound seniors hopes to avoid budget chopping block

Under President Trump's proposed budget, funding for Meals on Wheels could slim down substantially. The blueprint suggests eliminating the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant Program, which provides the Meals on Wheels National office with 3% of its funding. Last year, its meal programs combined served more than 50,000 meals over a 4,600 square-mile area. It plans to use the money to fund awareness campaigns, among other things.

My suggestion is take off your designer suit coat, roll up your sleeves, come to Jacksonville, Alabama, and join us as we deliver a hot, well-prepared meal with individual dietary restrictions to these great Americans.

"We get to know them pretty well", said Park. Holscher explained that 66 percent of the local Meals on Wheels' nutrition budget - which includes home-delivered meals and congregate meals at senior centers - comes through federal funding, the majority of which comes from the Older Americans Act.

Supporters of it's-not-a-federal-program omit mentioning that Meals on Wheels receives federal money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How the proposed cuts would impact any single local Meals on Wheels organization would vary because each local group determines its own funding.

The remainder, roughly $2 per meal, was covered by donations from the community.

In 2015, it was about 275,000 meals, and for 2016, they provided 375,000 meals to Warren County residents over 60 years of age.

Mid-East Area Agency on Aging chief operating officer Lisa Knoll says there's a property tax credit program for older adults that could get cut in Jefferson City.

Even at current federal funding levels, some Meals on Wheels programs are struggling to meet demand.

The other argument flung against Meals on Wheels is that it is a program that doesn't work.

More than 319,000 Pennsylvania seniors are threatened by hunger; more than 811,000 are living in or near poverty; and more than 738,000 are living alone, according to Meals on Wheels America.

But Bertolette says "it's hard to imagine a scenario in which these critical services would not be significantly and negatively impacted if [the budget proposal is] enacted into law", she says. While Meals on Wheels fights for donations, they said they haven't given up the fight in Washington. In America, one in six senior citizens does not know where his or her next meal is coming from.

"These are not just customers out there, but it's also part of the community and our neighbors and friends", he says. "We have done everything we can to accommodate the cuts that we've already seen, as well as the increase in need". And that keeps them feeling alive.


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