In response to President Trump’s budget, which called for eliminating funding for Meals on Wheels, donations to the organization have skyrocketed.
On Thursday, Trump rolled out his budget outline for the 2018 fiscal year, which calls for more than $50 billion in new military spending, paid for by slashing and eliminating programs with bipartisan support. One of the cuts proposed was eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant, which operates on a $3 billion budget. Part of that budget is typically dedicated to keeping Meals on Wheels afloat, in addition to other federal programs through other agencies.
While defending the budget, White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney bizarrely called the cuts the “compassionate” thing to do.
“You’re only focusing on half of the equation. Right? You’re focusing on recipients of the money,” Mulvaney said to a reporter who balked at his “compassionate” defense of the cuts. “We’re trying to focus on both the recipients and the folks who give us the money in the first place, and I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard earned money anymore”
In response to the cuts, Americans are donating to and volunteering for Meals on Wheels in unprecedented numbers. Meals on Wheels spokeswoman Jenny Bertollete told Yahoo News that on the day the cuts were announced, donations increased by 5,000 percent. The organization is a network of several thousand locally operated offices, and Bertolette said it’s likely that local affiliates have seen an increase in donations as well.
“It is our hope that donations will come in not only at the national level to help support our advocacy efforts during this important budget process, but also at the local level, to fill any gaps the new budget may create,” Bertollete said.
While OMB Director Mulvaney said the cuts were due to a lack of “results,” Meals on Wheels provides sustenance to over 2 million seniors every year.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.