(Refiles to show in last paragraph that Trump budget proposal
includes "reduction in discretionary non-defense programs," not
By Melissa Fares
NEW YORK, March 18 Meals on Wheels America, the
umbrella organization for 5,000 providers of home-delivered
meals for seniors, said on Saturday that online donations have
surged since the White House released a proposed budget that
could lead to a big drop in its funding.
The organization, which provides advocacy services for the
national network, received about $50,000 on Thursday after the
budget blueprint was announced, compared with $1,000 on a
President Donald Trump this week proposed a 17.9 percent
fiscal 2018 cut in funds for the Health and Human Services
Department, which provides most of the government support for
Meals on Wheels, the organization said.
The proposal did not say how the cut would affect the
Administration for Community Living, the HHS agency that funds
nutrition programs for the elderly, Meals on Wheels spokeswoman
Jenny Bertolette said.
But Meals on Wheels said on its website that it is difficult
to imagine a scenario under which the next federal budget would
not have an impact on its services. According to the website, 3
percent of Meals on Wheels America’s annual budget comes from
the federal government to host a resource center on nutrition
"While Meals on Wheels America and local Meals on Wheels
programs are seeing an uptick in giving, it does not replace
federal funding," Bertolette told Reuters in an email.
The White House referred questions about the HHS budget to
An HHS representative referred to a statement from Secretary
Tom Price released earlier this week, which said in part: "HHS
is dedicated to fulfilling our department’s mission to improve
the health and well-being of the American people. This budget
supports that mission and will help ensure we are delivering
critical services to our fellow citizens..."
Bertolette said the national organization did not know
whether local groups had a similar jump in donations.
One in six seniors "struggles with hunger," according to the
organization. Its services are provided free of charge for those
who cannot afford to pay, according to the website.
Seniors who have fresh meals delivered daily show greater
improvement in health and well-being than those who get frozen
meals delivered once a week or no meals at all, the organization
said, citing research from Brown University and funded by AARP
Trump's first budget proposal calls for a sharp increase in
military spending and a like reduction in most discretionary
(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Dan