Albany County executive tries to ease fears of 'Meals on Wheels' cuts

Did the White House budget director say Meals on Wheels "doesn't work"? The program serves food to thousands of people, many of whom are seniors who are homebound and in need. "We are getting into the Easter month when not so many people are willing to give", she said.

Meals on Wheels stated that the program opposes any cut to its funding.

Those programs constitute sizable funding for Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit with more than 5,000 local branches that provides hot meals and support for about 2.4 million senior citizens.

Further, Meals on Wheels is not one single national organization, but an affiliation of independent operations around the U.S. There are more than 5,000 affiliates, all with different sources of funding, including government appropriations, foundation grants, individual donations, and corporate support.

President Trump's "skinny budget" doesn't seek to directly cut funds from Meals on Wheels, because it is not a federal program.

Ham walked the rest of the panel through some of the problems with the community block grant program.

Meals on Wheels has seen a surge in volunteers since the budget proposal was released. We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good.

"It's not just a meal, but a wellness check", Noe said.

There's also speculation by the organization that Trump's budget could slash the Older Americans Act, which funds more than one-third of Meals on Wheels operations, although the actual effect of the budget cuts will not be clear until more details come out.

The direct funding for Meals on Wheels programs comes from the Nutrition Service Programs, administered by the Administration on Aging within the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Older Americans Act.

Bertolette says there would be a "more sweeping negative impact" on Meals on Wheels if that funding shrinks.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney defended the proposed cuts, including that to Meals on Wheels.

"The federal government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results", the authors of the budget blueprint say. "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". It's another example of the phenomenon of "rage fundraising", where the anger and concerns of donors to progressive and anti-poverty causes threatened by President Trump's proposed policies and budget have brought about a fundraising boom. Both Republican and Democratic legislators have promised to protect the Meals on Wheels program. "It is one I would never vote to cut even one dollar".

  • Larry Hoffman