The release of President Trump's new budget, titled America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, has caused a major uproar as the EPA and State Department are set to each lose upwards of 31 percent of their funding. Along with these two though, there is another very well-known, albeit much smaller, program that is also set to see is funding cut, Meals On Wheels.
The service, which provides food to the elderly, poor, veterans, disabled and others who often can’t leave their homes, has been active in the United States since 1974. In 2016 alone, Meals on Wheels delivered upwards of 220 million meals to 2.5 million seniors in need, and more than 500,000 veterans, across the country.
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Meals on Wheels is funded by the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which is controlled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Much like the EPA and State Department, HUD, which is now run by former republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, is facing major funding cuts as part of Mr. Trump’s proposed budget.
In addition to the EPA, HUD, and the State Department, the Departments of Agriculture and Labor will also see funding pulled, along with Transportation programs like Amtrak. Within these departments, the new budget is also set to reduce or outright eliminate a number of other nutrion-related programs, including the USDA Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, the Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters, and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program, which helps support education, child development and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries around the globe.
According to the New York Times, the proposed cuts come as Mr. Trump aims to boost defense spending as part of his $1.15 trillion budget. A goal Mr. Trump defends with the claim that “A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority — because without safety, there can be no prosperity.”
This first budget plan is considered a pared-down first draft, which will be followed by a broader budget later this spring. That document will include Mr. Trump’s proposals for taxation, as well as the bulk of government spending and other entitlement programs.
Since most Meals on Wheels programs use funding from several sources, it’s unlikely that the cuts will end the services completely. However, each state’s Meals on Wheels program could be forced to dramatically reduce the number of people they are able to serve.