Meals on Wheels Central Texas says proposed federal cuts would impact seniors in need

Proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration could affect some services that help the elderly and disabled in Austin.

The proposed federal cuts include removing $3 billion from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block grants. Those grants help fund Meals on Wheels programs all over the country, including here in Central Texas.

Volunteers with Meals on Wheels Central Texas prepare and deliver 3,000 meals for people in need and, while the proposed cuts only make up a small percentage of their budget, officials said any drop in funding would result in less people getting the food and human interaction they need.

“They’re also delivering the reminder that they haven't been forgotten by the community. They're also providing a daily well check. They get to know these folks, because they're delivering to them every day, they know when something's off, and they are trained that if they think something is wrong with the client to contact us immediately,” said Thad Rosenfeld, Vice President of Communications for Meals on Wheels Central Texas.

The services the organization provides could be in danger if proposed budget cuts by the Trump administration make it through congress.

“We operate lean and mean here as far as our operating budget is concerned. 83 cents out of every dollar go to direct services to help our clients, so we keep the overhead very low. So any cuts are going to have an effect on the amount of service we're able to provide. So less money from the federal government will mean fewer meals coming out of this kitchen,” said Rosenfeld.

Meals on Wheels Central Texas officials said delivering meals to people in their homes costs about $2,100 a year. If those people had to be moved to assisted living instead, it would cost between $40-45,000 a year.

“We should be increasing funding to Meals on Wheels because the need is there and, if you look at the cost savings vs the alternative, it just makes good fiscal sense to do that,” Rosenfeld said. 

That's why those working at the organization are trying to remain optimistic that the cuts will not be approved.

“We're hoping that as this issue is debated on Capitol Hill that lawmakers will realize the intense value that their providing these services offers, not only for the people being assisted, but taxpayers themselves,” Rosenfeld said.

On the plus side, Meals on Wheels staffers said since word got out to the community about the possible cuts, several more people have contacted them to volunteer or donate.