Meals on Wheels could take funding hit in Trump budget

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(CNN) — The preliminary outline for President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget could slash some funding for a program that provides meals for older, impoverished Americans.

The budget blueprint suggests cutting funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by about $6.2 billion, a 13.2% decrease from its 2017 funding level.

Almost half of those savings will come by eliminating the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant, which provides money for a variety of community development and anti-poverty programs, including Meals on Wheels.

How much it would affect the organization is unknown, but Meals on Wheels says 84% of its money comes from individual contributions and grants from corporations and foundations. About 3% comes from government grants, it says.

“The federal government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results,” the budget blueprint says.

In addition to painting the CDBG as ineffective, the blueprint says the 2018 budget seeks to “devolve community and economic development activities to the state and local level.”

As an example of how it works, the government of San Jose, California, spends federal CDBG funds on homeless outreach, resolving “slum and blight” and other community development needs.

In a statement issued before Trump’s budget blueprint was released, the city said it expected to receive more than $2.5 million in funding for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. It planned to spend $100,650 of that on Meals on Wheels.

Other expenditures included legal aid, senior assistance, literacy programs and home repair for the poor.

According to Meals on Wheels, roughly one in six seniors in the country struggles with hunger, and the organization served 2.4 million seniors a total of 219.4 million meals in 2015.

About 63% of those meals are delivered to seniors’ homes. The elderly who are more ambulatory are fed at local community and senior centers.

In addition to providing food, Meals on Wheels provides much-needed human contact for home-bound seniors. One of the ancillary benefits of the in-person delivery is that it has decreased the rate of falls in the home, saving the nation about $34 billion a year in that respect alone, Meals on Wheels says.

The organization took in revenues of $7.6 million in 2015, enough to cover expenses with a $40,000 surplus. It finished the year with assets of $13 million.

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