Caught in the fray is the Meals on Wheels program, which provides daily hot meals and wellness checks to seniors and gets some federal funding via The Older Americans Act (OAA).
According to a fact sheet available on the Meals on Wheels website, OAA funding comes through “the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LaborHHS-Education) annual appropriations bill.”
The fact sheet goes on to note that 37 percent of funding comes through the OAA, however, “state, local, private donations and other resources” cover the remaining 63 percent of the funding that is needed.
Reuters reported that Meals on Wheels America typically gets about $1,000 daily in donations, but following reports that Trump's budget proposal might result in “a big drop in its funding,” donations spiked to $50,000 in just one day. According to ABC News, that increase in donations continued, with the total amount hitting approximately $100,000 just two days later.
The Huffington Post wrote that it wasn't just donations that have increased. The organization also saw a 500 percent increase in volunteers signing up to help. Volunteers deliver meals to seniors and visit with them, sometimes becoming the only person the seniors have contact with that day:
Meals on Wheels spokesperson Jenny Bertolette told Reuters by email that while the donation news was good, it did not mean the budget proposal cuts couldn't hurt the organization:
“While Meals on Wheels America and local Meals on Wheels programs are seeing an uptick in giving, it does not replace federal funding.”
The Meals on Wheels fact sheet stated that federal OAA funding covers $523,010,580 of its $1,432,276,392 annual expenditures. On its website, Meals on Wheels America corrected some false reports being made by media regarding the cuts with a press release:
"Meals on Wheels services are provided directly to seniors by a nationwide network of 5,000 local community-run programs that, in the aggregate, receive 35% of their funding from the federal government.
Some media outlets have incorrectly reported this number to be 3%, confusing it with the federal funding received by Meals on Wheels America, the national membership organization that does not provide direct services (e.g., meals). This miscommunication dramatically understates the significant impact of any federal budget cuts that may affect Meals on Wheels."
The press release pointed out that “the proposed 17.9% cut prescribed for HHS” could impact the Meals on Wheels program. In addition, “the proposed elimination of two block grant programs” and “the fate of a third block grant program” that falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversight could also impact federal funding for the organization.