Ground swell of interest in Meals on Wheels is something to be thankful for

In the aftermath of the bombshell of a first budget submitted by President Trump, few individual programs have received more attention than the federally-funded home-delivered meal programs for older adults, “Meals on Wheels.”

Two block grant programs, the Community Development Block Grant and the Community Services Block Grant, were targeted for elimination in the budget. These programs provide support for home-delivered meals and related services in some parts of the country. However, the main funding source for home-delivered meals, the Older Americans Act, as well as the Social Services Block Grant, were not removed in the budget.

According to a story on the Huffington Post written by Bob Blancato, an aging advocate, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, while in a press conference, offered an indefensible defense of why home-delivered meal programs in these particular federal programs were being targeted. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney charged that these programs did not show results.

The Director of the Office of Management and the Budget has provided the spark that has lit the fire under national and grassroots advocates.

This astounding allegation may be the most astounding “fake news” we have heard to date from this administration. Federally-funded home-delivered meal programs show concrete, measurable results every day they operate, Blancato wrote.

Results: These older Americans will be provided with a meal which for many will be their main source of nutrition for the day.

Results: These older Americans will receive this meal in their home vs. in a hospital or nursing home. In fact, it has been estimated that an older adult can be fed for a year by Meals on Wheels for approximately the same cost as spending a day in a hospital or a week in a nursing home. Meal delivery keeps older adults safely at home, at dramatically less cost to the federal government.

Results: In many communities, federally-funded home-delivered meals are delivered by a dedicated cadre of volunteers of all ages, also showing an efficient use of the federal dollar.

Results: When a meal is provided to an older adult, they also have the occasion to interact daily with someone who cares about them helping to reduce the real concern about isolation among older adults. This provides added value.

Sometimes budget axes hit the wrong targets, Blancato wrote. This is one of those times and targets. Any elimination of federal funding for home-delivered meals for older adults is a wrong and a cruel target.