Donations flood into Meals on Wheels after White House threatens to pull funding

Donations flood into Meals on Wheels after White House threatens to pull funding

Ann Kondos, on the far left, is an 81-year-old Meals on Wheels client in Providence, Rhode Island.Image: Stew Milne/AP/REX/Shutterstock
By Marissa Wenzke2017-03-17 22:15:38 UTC

For the elderly, living at home alone can be difficult to say the least. Just getting the meals they need can be a struggle, and for many, Meals on Wheels has been the answer.
So when Trump’s budget proposal released Thursday threatened to slash all federal funding for the program, a whole lot of Americans were outraged. And they acted on that outrage.

Following the news, 50 times the usual donations flooded into Meals on Wheels America in a single day, Yahoo! News reports. The organization also saw a whole lot of people offering up their time as well as their cash.
Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications at Meals on Wheels, said it saw “an almost 500 percent jump in volunteer sign-ups” through their website AmericaLetsDoLunch.org.
The mass goodwill came after a social media storm of backlash.

When my dad was first showing signs of dementia I couldn’t get to OH to get to him yet #MealsOnWheels SAVED him. Literally kept him alive.
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 16, 2017

Even Meals on Wheels itself explained exactly why taking away those public funds would be so destructive.

Homebound elderly people who may otherwise have to live in a nursing home are especially helped by the program. 2.4 million seniors — including half a million veterans — have received a total of 217 million meals through the program. It’s received $517 million in federal funding through the Older Americans Act, which supports social and nutritional services for Americans over the age of 60.
But all that would end under Trump’s proposal.

Trump’s budget outline takes away federal money for the program, as it strips away 17.9 percent of the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees programs under the Older Americans Act, as explained by Alison Foreman, the director of Meals on Wheels in Ypsilanti, Michigan. 
She told The Washington Post that while some details around the budget cuts are not totally definitive, it’s clear that funding cuts will happen regardless. 
And that means programs like Meals on Wheels won’t get the government support that’s helped them survive for years. 
“We realize it is unclear what the president’s proposal means for nutrition and aging programs,” Foreman said in an email to the Post. “The overall proposed funding cut of 17.9 percent for HHS, which includes the Older Americans Act funding for aging programs, is concerning.”