Once again the Trump administration is threatening to defund a federally-funded program that benefits those in need. First they targeted Planned Parenthood (whose outcome is still unclear), and now POTUS is going after Meals on Wheels, a national program that provides food to underprivileged senior citizens and Army veterans, reports Fusion.
The defunding of the national assistance program stems from Trump’s proposed budget cut. According to the New York Times, POTUS is aiming to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program. Not only would this affect Meals on Wheels, but also a program that helps low income seniors find employment—among other programs. The block grant derives from 3-30 percent of the funds being used in about 5,000 Meals on Wheels chapters, but the White House has vouched to eliminate the grant in its entirety.
— Meals on Wheels (@_MealsOnWheels) March 20, 2017
Still, amid the proposal, the program has now garnered more help and support than ever since the budget cut was announced last week. Meals on Wheels America Spokesperson, Jenny Bertolette, said they’ve had a 500 percent increase in volunteer inquiries for the program since then. Additionally, the organization has received donations at a rate 50 times more than its usual amount, CNN reports.
That said, the Trump administration is trying to justify their massive cuts. White House budget director Mark Mulvaney said that the government “can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good—and great,” reports The Washington Post. Mulvaney also added that the proposal is – wait for it – “one of the most compassionate things we can do.”
Luckily, the budget cut has received considerable criticism and plenty backlash from other governmental authorities on both the democratic and republican side. California Democrat Linda Sanchez said the Trump administration is “literally taking food away from seniors,” and even Florida Republican Gus Bilirakis is said to have helped Meals and Wheels deliver food to seniors.
Despite the problematic proposal, advocates are not backing down from the fight. “The good news is that it has rallied folks around the cause and reminded folks that they can’t really take these kinds of services for granted,” Metro Meals on Wheels Executive Director Patrick Rowan said, reports CNN. “It’s reassuring that the public has stepped up.”