Donald Trump’s newly proposed budget would eliminate vital programs from all over the United States, but one of the most senselessly gutted programs appears to be the Meals on Wheels initiative.
If the White House gets its way, all federal funding that goes towards Meals on Wheels would be cut, meaning that the program would then be entirely dependent upon donations. Currently, the program receives 35% of its funding from the Administration on Aging, and the rest comes from donations.
Meals on Wheels’ federal budget is around $3 million, approximately the same as it costs taxpayers for one of Trump’s weekends at Mar-A-Lago.
Meals on Wheels is a nationwide program that enlists volunteers to deliver hot meals to senior citizens in their homes, providing nutrition and human contact all in one. For many, the meals provided by the program is the only food they eat, and for many seniors, the volunteers may be the only human contact they receive all day.
Republican Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, explained the planned cut, saying that sometimes programs sound good, while being the opposite.
“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good and great.”
Mulvaney argued that Meals on Wheels isn’t “showing results.”
To be clear, all evidence points in the opposite direction of Mulvaney’s assessment. On a basic level, providing warm meals to 1 millions senior citizens based on a volunteer model is a relatively cheap way of improving the quality of life of these individuals.
On a more practical level, states that invest in the program spend less on nursing home costs as the elderly are more capable of staying in their homes if they are fed and receive occasional human interaction.
Meals on Wheels has already suffered from budget cuts in the past and say that they are now able to serve 23 million fewer meals per year than in 2005.
When imagining government cuts, most do not imagine that those cuts will affect elderly senior citizens, living alone in their homes, and struggling to eat a hot meal. This is the human impact of bureaucracy, especially in the Trump administration.