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

20 March 2017, 08:39 | Darin Griffith

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Meals on Wheels America, the national group that represents programs throughout the USA, said it was deluged with questions about the proposed funding cuts and could not respond to inquiries. The Houston YWCA is one of the groups that administers Meals on Wheels in the Houston area.

Bertolette said the support to the national Meals on Wheels office has been "amazing" and "very overwhelming".

Meals on Wheels America, a national group that represents 5,000 programs throughout the country, said it was bombarded with questions about the budget and could not respond to press inquiries. The block grants fund a small portion of Meals on Wheels operations nationwide, and some of its 5,000 local branches rely on the funding to varying degrees. "We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good", he said. "It's reassuring that the public has stepped up".

Mulvaney, obviously, wasn't saying that Meals on Wheels doesn't work.

Last week, numerous media outlets falsely reported that the Trump administration proposed 2018 budget would eliminate charities like Meals on Wheels. There is now no evidence that any of these programs are being cut or that their budget reductions would affect Meals on Wheels programs. In 2016 almost 20,000 meals were provided to seniors who otherwise may have gone without. Federal funding is at risk.

The federal government does provide significant funding for Meals on Wheels, but it doesn't come from the CDBG.

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Some states use CDBG money for Meals on Wheels. And since the federal government started to apply more performance measurements to federal programs in the Bush administration those block grants have been "just not showing any results", he said. Each day, volunteers deliver roughly 4,600 hot meals to seniors across Dallas. As we wrote about on Thursday, the national organization, named after its focus on bringing meals to the elderly and other homebound individuals, would see its own budget - which comes from a mix of government funding and private donations - significantly cut under the proposed new plan.

Meals on Wheels is a non-profit program that delivers food to millions of elderly, poor, and disabled Americans. "To think of a cut, any amount of cut is really risky". Like many programs, it gets funding from an area agency on aging through the Older Americans Act.

Though this massive jump in support for the group is certainly encouraging, the impact also comes with an irony: The proposed budget cuts aren't meant to sink Meals on Wheels entirely, but simply to reduce its reliance on federal tax dollars. The White House also proposes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes more than $800 million annually for Meals on Wheels.

"We've spent $150 billion on those programs since the 1970s", Mulvaney said, referring to the block grants. "No one wants to cut anything", told the CNN panel, "And I think that was the most revealing thing, as it often is, that we can not have a grown-up conversation about actually making priorities in government". "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". Both Republican and Democratic legislators have promised to protect the Meals on Wheels program.

"Meals on Wheels is a wonderful program", he said.



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