March 17, 2017
Dear Friends of Meals on Wheels,
As many of you have seen, initial details of the President’s Budget have emerged and are being shared on social media and news outlets big and small. Because of the essential work that we do at Meals on Wheels (MOW) programs across the country – any threatened cuts (thankfully) garner strong public reaction and support.
As CEO of Meals on Wheels San Francisco and Chair of the Board of Meals on Wheels America, I am working with our National team to respond to press calls and to activate a response to any cuts that may be proposed. Last night, I appeared on CNN’s “Tonight with Don Lemon” to represent and advocate for Meals on Wheels programs across the country: twitter.com/CNNTonight.
It’s important to note that this is the beginning of the Budget process and there’s a long way to go. In this non-stop news cycle and social media reality we live in, it’s our responsibility to stand up for these services, but also speak about what we know, not what may be projected on social media. I’ve summarized what we know so far in the bullet points below.
What: On Thursday, the President sent his Budget Blueprint, also known as the ‘skinny budget,’ to Congress with a plan to release further details in the coming months. This blueprint focuses on discretionary spending levels for Fiscal Year 2018, and makes investments in defense programs, paid for through deep cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, such as Meals on Wheels.
Who this impacts: Every day, Meals on Wheels San Francisco delivers nutritious meals to over 3,500 isolated seniors and adults with disabilities in every neighborhood of San Francisco. For many of these seniors, Meals on Wheels is their only source of food and the most reliable way to fight the isolation of growing older alone – 65% of the seniors we serve live alone.
What can you do to support Meals on Wheels:
CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR | mealsonwheelsamerica.org/findyourofficials
DONATE | mowsf.org/donate
VOLUNTEER | americaletsdolunch.org
ADVOCATE | Forward this email to share your support for Meals on Wheels programs
Budget details: The proposed budget reduces spending for vital programs like Meals on Wheels. Among the cuts, the budget calls for the elimination of the $3 Billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the sources of funding for Meals on Wheels programs around the country. Details on our network’s primary source of funding, the Older Americans Act, which has supported senior nutrition programs for 45 years, have not yet been released. This vital act provides 35% of the total funding for Meals on Wheels. With a stated 17.9% cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) budget, however, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which these critical services would not be significantly and negatively impacted if enacted into law.
The need is growing: Aside from any proposed changes to federal funding for Meals on Wheels, the need for our services is exponentially growing. We have tripled the number of meals we deliver in the last 10 years from 570,000 in 2007 to 1.725 million in 2016. This is in part due to shifting age demographics as the Baby Boomer generation ages in to retirement.
Budget defies bi-partisan history of supporting seniors: Ironically, the month of March honors the signing and enhancement of the Older Americans Act by Richard Nixon on March 22, 1972. Meals on Wheels programs around the country celebrate this historic, bi-partisan bill through the annual #MarchForMeals campaign. While we continue to await more details on the proposed budget, we are closely monitoring the situation and will be ready to advocate for home-bound seniors here in San Francisco and across the country to maintain this critical source of funding.
We must all come together to push back against these proposals, and we are very lucky to have strong bicameral and bipartisan support in Congress. It won’t be easy, but we are in this together!
Ashley C. McCumber
CEO & Executive Director of Meals on Wheels San Francisco