Trump Cuts Could Hurt Local Meals On Wheels

Mar 22, 2017

A Meals on Wheels volunteer delivers a meal in Wake County
Credit Meals on Wheels of Wake County

President Trump's proposed budget cuts might impact seniors who benefit from Meals on Wheels.

Trump's budget includes an 18 percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services, which provides grants to Meals on Wheels, a program that brings hot lunches to homebound seniors.

Local meals this week include Crab Cake, Chicken Penne, Meatloaf Patty with Mushroom Gravy, Chicken Patty with Honey-Chicken Stock, and Smoked Sausage, according to the Meals on Wheels of Wake County website.

Alan Winstead heads the Meals on Wheels of Wake County. He said if the program loses federal grants at a rate proportional to proposed department cuts, the local chapter would have to adjust its budget.

“Right now, Meals on Wheels of Wake County is spending 91 cents out of every dollar directly on program expenses. And the largest program expense we have is buying and preparing the food that we deliver to our 1,300 participants every day,” he said.

Meals on Wheels of Wake County financial information for the most recent years available.
Credit Meals on Wheels of Wake County / Guidestar

The cuts could mean a hit of $200,000. The organization receives about $2.6 million per year, nearly all raised through contributions and grants, according to recent financial filings.

“We could continue to raise more money or we would just have to reduce our expenses,” Winstead said. “So reducing our expenses would mean buying and preparing fewer meals and serving fewer people.

Winstead estimated a possible funding loss equal to the cost of annual meals for more than 100 seniors.

“The people we serve really have contributed to our community, and now they just need a little bit of help to live at home longer,” said Winstead. “And I think that as a community as a state and as a nation, that we can afford to look after them.”