Trump Budget Proposal Cuts Meals on Wheels Program
March 30, 2017
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President Trump’s recent budget proposal has caused some controversy due to funds being cut on social welfare programs, including Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers meals to the elderly who are unable to cook or purchase food for themselves.
This program doesn’t earn much federal funding to begin with, but with cuts to things like the nutrition programs of the Older Americans Act, it will hit Meals on Wheels more significantly.
The funding that Meals on Wheels does get only covers around 30-60 percent of the cost and other money needed is received through donations or fundraising.
Stephen O’Neill, a professor in the Language and Literature department at Bucks, has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels for about 20 years and shared his experiences with this program and views as to why he thinks it’s so vital.
“I think it’s one of the most important social welfare programs that we have. The people all really appreciate not only the meals but also the human contact,” O’Neill says.
“For some, they don’t see anybody but us week in and week out. Relatives live too far away or they honestly don’t care. Some live in isolation out in the country in Jersey with no neighbors.”
“I deliver the meals out of Lambertville, New Jersey and can range in visits with people in low income apartments or houses in the countryside.”
“Sometimes I have to plan my escape because all they want to do is talk and talk and talk.”
“I have met some of the most interesting people you could ever imagine; doctors, lawyers, engineers, and even an Olympic tennis player. These people have had the most amazing lives,” he said.
“Even if it’s brief, the human contact they receive is very important.”
Meals on Wheels is all volunteer work and they are always looking for more help.
“Sometimes we do a sort of informal assessment, to see if they are mentally or physically ok. If I think there is a problem, someone can contact family members or social workers to see what’s going on”, he explains.
“For many people, Meals on Wheels is their only source of food. This is their life-line.”
“On holidays, we deliver extra meals so they won’t starve over the day’s volunteers aren’t working.”
The benefit of Meals on Wheels in not solely about nutrition. In a study done in 2016, it was noted that seniors who received the meals had low loneliness scores.
“Nutrition is really important for these people. I know these meals and regular visits keeps them healthier mentally and physically.”
“It’s the difference between staying in your home and going to a nursing home, which is the last thing anybody ever wants to do”, he says. “Meals on Wheels helps people stay out of hospitals.”
“It really is one of the biggest bargains our society gets.”
“I think everybody should give back to society. We are all in this together. When there’s a need like that, somebody has to fill it.”