“Let’s talk about Meals on Wheels, because we don’t reduce it.” – Mick Mulvaney, Trump Budget Director, 5/24/17
Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers hot meals to more than 2.4 million needy seniors across the country every year. Volunteers not only deliver sustenance; they check in on isolated seniors and provided a much needed human connection.
Anyone looking at the actual numbers can plainly see that the Trump budget does, in fact, slash funding for Meals on Wheels. In addition to cutting Older Americans Act home-delivered meals by $1.5 million, the President’s budget eliminates the Community Services, Community Development and Social Services Block Grants, upon which some Meals on Wheels programs rely for funding.
Because of previous budget cuts, Older Americans Act nutrition programs are already serving 23 million fewer meals than in 2005. The loss of Community Services Block Grants ($715 million), Community Development Block Grants ($3 billion) and Social Service Block Grants ($1.7 billion) funding for home delivered meals would increase the number of seniors threatened by hunger.
According to Feeding America, 5.7 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure as of 2014. That means 9% of all seniors in the wealthiest nation in the world are at risk of going hungry. Worse yet, the number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025. There are waiting lists in every state for seniors who need food assistance. Cutting Meals on Wheels funding at a time of growing need is outrageous and dangerous.
In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post on March 20th, National Committee President Max Richtman recounted his days as staff director for the Senate Select Committee on Aging. He tells the story of a Republican Senator who changed his mind about the program after riding along with a Meals on Wheels van:
“He (the GOP Senator) was impressed by not only the sustenance of the food, but also the seniors’ human connection to the volunteers, and became an enthusiastic advocate for the program.” – Max Richtman, Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post
At the end of the letter to the editor, Max suggested that a certain occupant of the White House follow the Senator’s lead.
Perhaps Mr. Trump should ride with a Meals on Wheels van and witness the profound benefits to our nation’s most vulnerable seniors.
That suggestion seems even more appropriate today, given that the President obviously has no problem defunding Meals on Wheels in his new budget. Perhaps Mick Mulvaney should ride along with him.