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

Posted March 20, 2017

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. Meals on Wheels is among the groups that could soon be facing a funding crisis. "The Block Grant accounts for about 3% of Meals on Wheels" budget. 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. According to the organization's website, Meals on Wheels America already has more than two million volunteers helping to run its "more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country".

Cayman Islands Meals on Wheels was the beneficiary of more than a ton of food, courtesy of the Cayman Islands Motorcycle Riders Association, who raised the goods through their Wheels 4 Meals Ride and food drive. There is now no evidence that any of these programs are being cut or that their budget reductions would affect Meals on Wheels programs.

Several local Meals on Wheels organizations said they had received similar support.

The outpouring of support comes shortly after the White House's budget blueprint suggested eliminating the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program and cutting funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. As Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters Thursday, "Meals on Wheels is not a federal program". As USA Today notes, "It's certainly a small fraction: Social services are capped by law at 15% of the block grants, and the most recent HUD figures show all senior services receive about $33 million". Additionally, Congress could direct the funding for this program not be reduced or eliminated.

In addition to the proposed Community Block Grant Program cuts, the Department of Health and Human Services could also see a 16.2 percent decrease in funding.

"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. "Again, that's a state decision to fund that particular portion - to take the federal money and give it to the states, and say look, we want to give you money for programs that don't work".

"It's not just a meal, but a wellness check", Noe said. Both Republican and Democratic legislators have promised to protect the Meals on Wheels program. "And we're delivering relief from isolation, and we're delivering relief to their family as well".