President Trump Plans to Cut Meals on Wheels Program –Truth! & Undetermined!
Summary of eRumor:
President Trump plans to cut federal funding for Meals on Wheels, a program providing meals to the elderly, poor and veterans, to save money for his border wall.
President Trump’s budget blueprint would eliminate some sources of federal funding for local and national Meals on Wheels programs — but the status of the Older Americans Act, which provides about 35 percent of funding for Meals on Wheels, isn’t yet clear.
The Trump administration released a “skinny budget” blue print that outlined the elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Community Services Block Grant (CDBS) programs, which provide grants that some local on Wheels programs rely on, the New York Times reports:
In addition to the cuts at the E.P.A. and the State Department, Mr. Trump’s team is expected to propose a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.
HUD has awarded more than $3 billion through the CDBG program in each of the recent fiscal years. In 2015, Meals on Wheels of America, the nonprofit’s national chapter, received just $248,000 total in government grants, accounting for about 3 percent of its $12.9 million annual operating budget. The bulk of Meals on Wheels of America funding came from corporate and foundation grants (84 percent), which presumably wouldn’t be impacted by the elimination of CDBG grants.
However, Jenny Bertolette, a spokesperson for Meals on Wheels of America, said in a statement that some local Meals on Wheels programs rely on CDBG and CDSG to stay afloat. Also, Bertolette indicated that the state of other important Meals on Wheels funding sources isn’t yet clear:
Details on our network’s primary source of funding, the Older Americans Act, which has supported senior nutrition programs for 45 years, have not yet been released. This vital Act provides 35 percent of the total funding for Meals on Wheels (both congregate and home-delivered programs) nationally. With a stated 17.9 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, however, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which these critical services would not be significantly and negatively impacted if enacted into law.
“The problem with a skinny budget is it is lean on details. So, while we don’t know the exact impact yet, cuts of any kind to these highly successful and leveraged programs would be a devastating blow to our ability to provide much-needed care for millions of vulnerable seniors in America, which in turn saves billions of dollars in reduced healthcare expenses” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO Meals on Wheels America.
The need is growing rapidly, and federal funding has not kept pace. The network is already serving 23 million fewer meals now than in 2005, and waiting lists are mounting in every state. At a time when increased funding is needed, we fear that the millions of seniors who rely on us every day for a nutritious meal, safety check and visit from a volunteer will be left behind.
This successful public-private partnership, for which every federal dollar is matched with about three dollars from other sources, enables at-risk seniors to stay out of more expensive healthcare settings and remain more healthy, safe and independent in their own homes, where they want to be. After all, we can provide a senior with Meals on Wheels for an entire year for roughly the same cost of an average one-day stay in the hospital or ten days in a nursing home.
So, if Congress approves Trump’s “skinny budget’ plan, it appears that Meals on Wheels would be “significantly and negatively impacted.” But the extent of the impact, and the status of other federal funding sources for local Meals on Wheels programs, isn’t yet clear. For those reasons, we’re calling reports that President Trump plans to cut Meals on Wheels “truth” and “undetermined.”