Meals on Wheels Sees a Huge Surge in Donations

But federal budget's impact on program is unclear at this point
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2017 4:30 PM CDT
Meals on Wheels Donations Soar Amid Fear of Cuts
File photo of a meal from the Meals On Wheels program being delivered in Charleston, W.Va.   (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

Fears that the Meals on Wheels program would be gutted under President Trump's first budget has translated into a significant boost in donations to the group. The national umbrella organization said it received $50,000 in online donations Thursday after Trump released his prelminary budget, reports Reuters. The typical daily total? More like $1,000. As USA Today and the Washington Post explain, however, it's a little early to suggest that the program will be decimated by the White House. For one thing, Meals on Wheels is not a federal program and does not receive money directly from the federal government. Instead, it ends up with a mixture of federal, state, and city funds. While Trump has proposed an overall 17.9% cut for the Department of Health and Human Services, the specific impact on the group is unclear.

“Some of the stories are just either grossly wrong or nearly grossly wrong, all the stories about how we cut Meals on Wheels,” White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said on NBC’s Meet the Press. Still, Trump did propose elminating HUD's community development block grants, from which Meals on Wheels gets about 3% of its funding. And the program would almost certainly feel the pinch if the HHS cuts hold up, given that it gets most of its federal money through one of its agencies, the Administration for Community Living. It's just too early to tell how bad it would be. In the meantime, a spokeswoman for the group says that while the extra donations are welcome, they probably wouldn't cover the shortfall. "While Meals on Wheels America and local Meals on Wheels programs are seeing an uptick in giving, it does not replace federal funding." (More budget cuts stories.)

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