In spite of dire predictions from many that Meals on Wheels would evaporate under President Trump’s budget, an instant outpouring suggests that perhaps the organization would do just fine either way. Meals on Wheels has received more than $100,000 in online donations over a two-day period following President Donald Trump’s budget proposal to gut dozens of social programs, the nonprofit organization told NBC News.
Meals on Wheels, a nationwide network of 5,000 local community-run programs that delivers meals to needy seniors, said it typically receives about $1,000 in unsolicited online donations on any given day. But lately, the donations have been pouring in.
“One would assume that concerned individuals who see the value in Meals on Wheels want it [to continue] to serve seniors in need,” spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette told NBC News.
Last week, the Trump administration unveiled a budget blueprint that calls for major increases in defense spending, while taking money out of domestic programs and discretionary spending. The Department of Health and Human Service, for instance, would lose $15.9 billion dollars in funding — a 17.9 percent decrease — under the proposed budget. And the Community Development Block Grants provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which some of the nation’s Meals on Wheels local programs rely on, would be eliminated completely.
“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good and great,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters last week. “Meals on Wheels sounds great. Again, that’s a state decision to fund that particular portion to it. 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.’ I can’t defend that anymore.”
Some lawmakers took to Twitter to speak out against Mulvaney’s remarks and applaud the work that groups like Meals on Wheels do for people in need.
$54 Billion more for military, slash diplomacy budget (why try to talk out a problem?) and elimination of Meals on Wheels. Let’s Organize.
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) March 16, 2017
My mom was a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for years. The program deserves every penny it gets. This budget is a moral failure.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) March 16, 2017
By gutting Meals on Wheels, the Council on Homelessness, Habitat for Humanity & more, Trump’s budget jeopardizes health & safety of the poor
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBookerOffice) March 16, 2017
Given the outpouring of private support, it calls into question the need for federal funding to automatically be poured into programs such as Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels’ local programs, which provide direct services, receive 35 percent of funding from the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program that falls under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“The impact on these funds has not yet been announced but, given the proposed 17.9% cut prescribed for HHS, could be at risk,” Meals on Wheels said in a press release on Sunday.
One in six seniors struggles with hunger and one in four are isolated, living alone, according to Meals on Wheels. Bertolette, the organization’s spokeswoman, said they plan to team up with supporters and members of Congress to defend their need for funding.
“We know that this budget proposal is only the beginning and we have our work cut out for us in the coming months,” she told NBC News.
(H/T NBC News)