Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Meals on Wheels Sees Massive Spike in Volunteers After Budget Controversy

Meals on Wheels Sees Massive Spike in Volunteers After Budget Controversy

The Houston YWCA is one of the groups that administers Meals on Wheels in the Houston area. But though such cuts could be devastating for the approximately 2.4 million people the program serves, the controversy surrounding those cuts also seems to have brought about at least a temporary boon for the organization. "We are getting into the Easter month when not so many people are willing to give", she said.

Nevertheless, Meals on Wheels quickly became the poster child for the impact of Trump's budget cuts.

Various media outlets have published articles claiming that the Trump administration's federal budget will eliminate funding for the Meals on Wheels program, whose volunteer drivers deliver hot meals to senior Americans across the country.

Trump's budget blueprint is just a proposal for part of the federal budget (the administration's full budget should be released late in the spring), and it's important to remember that no president's budget has ever been left intact by Congress.

Is it true that Meals on Wheels only receives 3 percent of its funding from the federal government? While the budget does not say which programs under HHS would be affected by that cut, the department oversees the Older Americans Act, the 1972 law that makes up the primary source of funding for Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels receives 35 percent of their funds because of the Older Americans Act according to a statement that Meals on Wheels released.

No. Mulvaney said that Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), a program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), were identified as "just not showing any results" and that the $3 billion should be spent on other budget items.

Bertolette said the support to the national Meals on Wheels office has been "amazing" and "very overwhelming". But the federal budget is cutting funds to a federal grant program that provides just three percent of the Meals on Wheels revenue budget, and the program will still receive significant federal funding. The White House also proposes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes more than $800 million annually for Meals on Wheels.

Mike Mulvaney, director of Office of Management and Budget, defended the budget when asked if it was "hard-hearted" to those in need. "I think it's fairly compassionate to go to [taxpayers] and say, look we're not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money anymore. unless we can guarantee to you that that money is going to be used in a proper function".

But scientific studies have found Meals on Wheels programs are effective in improving nutrition among the elderly.

"Meals on Wheels is a wonderful program", he said.

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