Trump cuts could impact Maine seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels

STATEWIDE (WGME) — President Trump's budget proposal could have an impact on nutrition and aging programs for seniors, including the popular Meals on Wheels program.

In Maine, the program delivers food and friendly visits to hundreds of our state's homebound seniors.

"I would really miss it if I didn't have it," said Marjorie Deniso, who told us getting around isn't easy and it's even tougher to make meals.

Deniso counts on volunteers with Meals on Wheels who twice a week stop by her Cape Elizabeth home to bring her frozen food and a warm smile.

"I've gotten to be quite close to some of them. It's very pleasant. I look forward to it. I'm a widow," she said.

The program in our area is run by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, which is part of the nationwide Meals on Wheels network, serving more than 2 million seniors a year.

"If anything were to happen to this program, and we wouldn't be able to provide the service, it would be a dire situation I think," said Katlyn Blackstone with the Southern Maine Agency on Aging.

Deniso gives the non-profit a monthly donation to help keep it going for her and the 700 other seniors in southern Maine.

The Meals on Wheels network reports it also gets about 35% of its funding from the federal government through the Older Americans Act, administered by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is facing a 17.9% funding cut, according to the budget blueprint proposal.

Many states allocate additional federal money from Community Development Block Grants to supplement Meals on Wheels programs.

"We can't do that anymore. We can't just spend money on programs just because they sound good and great and Meals on Wheels sounds great," said White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

The budget proposal doesn't eliminate the program, but it would eliminate $3 billion of Community Development Block Grants.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging says that would have an impact on Meals on Wheels in Maine because Community Development Block Grants are being used to buy meals in Biddeford and South Portland.

"Certainly if those were to go away we wouldn't be able to serve the amount of meals we are serving there now," Blackstone said.

Meals on Wheels says even without the cuts in the proposed budget, the program is already suffering and delivering 23 million fewer meals a year than it did in 2005.

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