More than just a meal: reaction to possible cuts to Meals on Wheels in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would cut federal funding to the Meals on Wheels program. Locally, if this plan becomes reality, the impact could be devastating for seniors in the area.

Meals on Wheels in Jefferson County delivers almost 800 meals a day to many homebound seniors. Without it, they’d have to find another way to get their food.

Under President Trump’s proposed budget plan, funding to programs and initiatives would be dramatically cut and funding for Meals on Wheels would end all together.

Trump’s budget would strip $3 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program, which includes Meals on Wheels. Locally, Meals on Wheels is publicly and privately funded with the help of several donors.

United Way of Central Alabama runs the program locally. President Drew Langloh says cutting the program completely could be devastating.

“796 meals a day delivered at home, plus just as many delivered through senior centers, this is a big impact, these programs are life-saving. They help elderly [people] stay in their homes, they help provide that one meal a day and that human contact which literally saves lives of seniors in our community,” said Langloh.

Recent studies have shown that the organization helps keep seniors in their homes and out of costly nursing homes longer.

Langloh says the need for the program is definitely there.

“One of the challenging things about this program is as successful as it is, is we have a waiting list of almost 2,000 people, so an already strapped budget, any kind of cuts to programs like these in our community are very difficult and that means people will go hungry,” he said.

Meals on Wheels in Jefferson County has over 500 volunteers who spend hours going around and delivering food to homebound seniors.

Volunteers like Robert Overton spend their days building relationships with the seniors they serve. Overton says it’s more than just the meal.

“I’d hate to think about it not being here because they do need it, there’s a lot of them that need it, so it would just be heartbreaking,” said Overton.

Langloh is now encouraging people to reach out to local representatives and voice how important the program is. Meals on Wheels is also encouraging you to donate or volunteer.

Click here for more information.

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