Meals On Wheels Weighs Impact Of Trump's Proposed Budget Cuts

Mar 17, 2017

There's no guarantee that Congress will approve President Donald Trump's budget proposal but  it's sending shockwaves through social service programs like Meals onWheels. Trump proposes eliminating money for community services block grants that help fund programs like Meals on Wheels. The program delivers 4,000 meals per day in Bexar County.

The food prep has ended for the day and volunteers are picking up the thousands of meals to be delivered for lunch.”

“On an average day we send out 158 routes via volunteers across Bexar County,” saysLauren Lewis, who manages volunteer services.

On Thursday, the Trump administration highlighted proposed cuts as part of its America First budget. One such cut could be to Community Services Block Grant. Meals on Wheels – San Antonio has a budget of $6 million. CEO Vinsen Faris says it receives about $300,000 from that pot of money.

"We’re talking about a full elimination of the community services black grant monies, and that’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to do a retraction in the number of meals that we have until we can really know where we are and what we’re doing going forward,” Faris says.

Faris says that retraction would only be if the cuts actually go through when the federal budget is approved. About $1.5 million comes from the federal government through other programs, some of that funding could be in danger as well.

“[We] receive CSBG funding to the tune of $367,000 this last year.  We are in jeopardy of losing the entire amount.  The Older Americans Act monies were approximately $1,500,000 last year.   We don’t think we are in jeopardy of having that totally eliminated, but we are concerned about possible 35% cuts. ($525,000)  So, both the CSBG and OAA money possible elimination and reductions could be around $892,000, or 15% of our Meals on Wheels budget.  That equates to 178,000 meals.  That would be devastating,” Faris says.”

Sandy Sullivan is a delivery volunteer and board member and says this is about more than just food.

"It gives them the knowledge that each day somebody is going to come to their door and knock on it and they’re going to be able to say hi to them and somebody cares. Somebody reaches out and cares for them on a daily basis,” Sullivan says.

Friday's meal consists of tuna fish, pasta, and fruit cocktail in respect to those observing Lent. It's also served with a cookie snack and pint of milk.
Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio

She dropped off a tuna lunch to Raymond Ramos who is barely able to walk.

“I sure need the food they bring me,” Ramos says.

“Well we’ll keep bringing it,” Sullivan adds.

Ramos says he doesn’t have much money to buy food on his own. For the first time Meals on Wheels-San Antonio hit over one million meals served last year.