Trump budget aims to eliminate Meals on Wheels programs
President Trump’s first budget proposal includes some steep cuts. One of them: the elimination of community development block grants, a $3 billion dollar program that gives states and cities flexibility on how they combat poverty.
Thousands of Meals on Wheels groups rely on the grants, including the Tri-Cities branch. The grant allows Kennewick and Richland to give $25,000 to Meals on Wheels.
“Think about how many groceries you can buy for $25,000, We would lose thousands of meals that we would not be unable to serve,” said Nutrition Services Director Marcee Woffinden.
Volunteers deliver about 350 meals to elderly, home-bound Tri-Citians every day. They serve about 300 meals at their eight different dining areas.
Nationally, Meals on Wheels serves 2.4 million meals per day.
The Tri-Cities branch served 173,000 meals in 2016, 16,000 more than 2015.
“This is the first time in 32 years I’ve heard someone say don’t feed the elderly, don’t take care of them… the most vulnerable people in your community,” said Woffinden.
For many recipients, Meals on Wheels delivers more than just meals – they bring a friendly face.
“It’s the highlight of my day, they come in and say hi and talk for a minute,” said Patsy Rinker of Richland. “They’re always so friendly and cheerful and I look forward to seeing them every day, I really do”
Many recipients depend on the Meals on Wheels program.
“It really is nice to have not only a meal but a nutritious meal because I have both cancer and sugar diabetes,” said Larry Clark of Richland.
Often, the recipients can not cook for themselves and don’t leave their homes.
“I’m 72 and have Parkinson’s disease. My hands shake to where I can’t write and I can hardly feed myself. It’s dependent on me to have a nice meal,” said Patrick Hamill of Richland.
Woffinden sad there is no possibility of state funding so if the grant is taken away, Meals on Wheels would need to do more fundraising and find greater community support.