President’s budget threatens Meals on Wheels West Michigan


GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The budget proposed by the President Donald Trump’s administration includes a dramatic shift in federal funding that has many people alarmed.

One of the proposed cuts would hit seniors right here in West Michigan. It’s a $6.2 billion cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development which provides some of the funding for the Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels of Western Michigan is in its 33rd year providing 600,000 meals per year made at its Grandville facility that are frozen and delivered to mostly homebound seniors.

Sixty-five percent of its funding comes from state and federal funding and from the Kent County Senior Millage.

Thursday, the White House director of the office of Budget and Management defended the proposed cuts on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“We think these programs that we’ve targeted, these programs I’ve mentioned, simply haven’t worked, can’t justify their existence, are duplicative of other programs,” said Mick Mulvaney, the OMB director. “They don’t work. A lot of them simply don’t work.”

The people who run Meals on Wheels in West Michigan have a different opinion.

“We’re a life blood support for our seniors,” said Brewster Hamm, president Meals on Wheels Western Michigan.

“It is definitely the main meal of the day for most, if not the only meal of the day,” said Lisa Wideman, director of operations for Meals on Wheels Western Michigan.

Meals on Wheels officials estimate the cuts proposed by the administration would cost the West Michigan program $140,000 equal to 37,000 meals, roughly one month worth of meals.

“That large of a cut very likely would result in some people not being able to receive food,” Wideman said.

Gov. Rick Snyder has praised Meals on Wheels and called on Michigan to have no one on a waiting list for the service.

“We might end up having to have a waiting list if these cuts go through,” Wideman said.

Rick Visser’s wife died last year and she used to make the meals. Visser, 72, of Grandville, said the service gives him peace of mind.

“It’s something that should never, never be cut — if anything, it should be added to along the line to help more people,” said Visser.

Meals on Wheels also helps seniors stay independent and at home, their drivers also save several lives every year when they find seniors who are sick or injured.

“And if somebody doesn’t come to the door, we follow up on every single one of those to make sure that they’re ok,” Wideman said.

It’s possible these proposed budget cuts are intended to make whatever cuts end up being approved seem less severe by comparison.

The proposals have to be approved by Congress. 24 Hour News 8 reached out to Rep. Justin Amash and Rep. Bill Huizenga, but they did not respond Thursday.

“I really invite President Trump to come out and deliver some meals because if he really knew the impact of our program I really, really like to think he would not make these cuts,” Wideman said.

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