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Budget may not affect Meals on Wheels


March 21, 2017

=Since the Trump administration released its federal budget proposal on March 16, local people have become concerned about potential cuts to the Meals on Wheels program.

Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments oversees the Sweet Home Meals on Wheels program, among others.

“We have been receiving quite a few requests for information and messages of support in the form of calls and contacts through our web page,” said Randi Moore, program manager of OCWCOG’s Senior and Disability Services. “They actually started late Wednesday night. It’s exciting to see that Meals on Wheels is a program so many people feel passionate about supporting.”

Executive Director Fred Abousleman sent out a news release on Friday to address some of the concerns that have been flowing into his office.

The budget includes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which is offset by “decreases in the budgets of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others,” Abousleman said in the release.

He said although several media outlets were reporting cuts that would specifically affect Meals on Wheels programs across the country, the Linn, Benton and Lincoln Meals on Wheels is federally funded through the Older Americans Act, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“As of right now, the president’s budget outline includes no cuts to the Older Americans Act,” Abousleman said.

What would affect the Meals on Wheels program is a proposed Health and Human Services budget reduction or changes to the Older Americans Act funding, he said.

Abousleman cited other funding sources for Meals on Wheels, such as the Community Services Block Grant and Community Development Block Grant.

Those programs are both facing cuts in the president’s budget proposal, he said.

Asked how people who are concerned can help with Meals on Wheels, Abousleman responded that people can always donate and volunteer.

“For our program we always have a deficit because we have more people needing meals than we have budget for,” he said.

Between July 1, 2016 and Feb. 28 this year, Sweet Home Meals on Wheels served 13,086 meals to 127 clients. Twenty volunteers logged 2,786 hours. They also served 2,107 congregate meals to 45 clients.

“The president’s budget proposal is the first step in the federal budget process,” Abousleman said. “Both houses of Congress will propose budget priorities and ultimately the House of Representatives, which has authority over appropriations, will consider their and other priorities. Concurrently, funding for FY2017 needs to be finalized. The president is expected to release a more detailed budget in late April or early May.”


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