Yahoo reports that donations and volunteers for Meals On Wheels—the series of not-for-profit programs that bring food and human contact to elderly and disabled people unable to leave their homes—have skyrocketed in the last few days, in response to a newly proposed federal budget that would remove some of the funding for their services. “We received 50 times the normal amount of donations yesterday,” said Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications at Meals on Wheels, noting that these donations were to the national group, which acts as support for more than 5,000 local programs across the country. “Local programs fundraise individually,” she added, “And we can assume that there was likely a groundswell of local support, as well.” (The group also “saw an almost 500 percent jump in volunteer sign-ups through its AmericaLetsDoLunch.org Ad Council website,” apparently.)
Meals On Wheels America also released a financial statement this week, making it clear that the “hard power budget” won’t be quite as disastrous for the program as concerned citizens have worried. The Trump budget cuts in question are targeted at Housing and Urban Development’s $3 billion Community Development Block Grants, which provide money to the states to help fund programs like Meals On Wheels. But the CDBGs only make up a small part of the network’s operating budget; they get most of their federal funding (35 percent of their overall budget) from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, via the Older Americans Act. Of course, Health and Human Services is also facing an 18 percent budget cut, so the programs aren’t exactly out of the woods—with Bertolette noting that, “We know for certain that there are Meals on Wheels programs that would lose vital funding if this proposal went through.”
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