Possible federal cuts could affect Carbon Valley Meals on Wheels, but not Longmont program
By Karen Antonacci
POSTED: 03/23/2017 06:57:41 PM MDT |
Meals on Wheels volunteer Jyl Phillips and client Laura Hargreaves, 85, hug after Phillips delivered a meal to Hargreaves' home Wednesday. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)Longmont Meals on Wheels would be unaffected by any cuts the federal government could make to money that some states and counties use to fund the independent nonprofits.
But Tri-Town Meals on Wheels — which serves Frederick, Firestone and Dacono residents — would likely see a budget reduction if that money from the federal government dried up.
Meals on Wheels programs, which provide meals to needy seniors, have a national lobbying organization, but are run independently on the local level.
As such, whether President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget cuts will affect Meals on Wheels would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
In the case of the Longmont Meals on Wheels program, it wouldn't be affected because the Longmont program doesn't receive federal or state funding.
Karla Hale, executive director of Longmont Meals on Wheels, said the program relies on local grants and donations.
"Longmont Meals on Wheels does not receive any state or federal funding because we are so fortunate to be in a community that supports us!" Hale wrote in an email. "We rely on the support of all of the individuals, foundations and businesses in our community."
The positive effect from the national media attention is that people are donating more to Longmont Meals on Wheels.
AdvertisementHale estimated that there has been a 15 percent increase in calls from people interested in volunteering over the last week and a half.
"Meals on Wheels programs are very important and do make a big impact in the communities they serve," Hale wrote. "Not only do they provide much needed nutrition to seniors and people with disabilities, they provide a daily check and many other services that help keep individuals in their homes and aging in place."
For other Meals on Wheels programs that do receive federal funding, it's complicated.
The questions about Meals on Wheels stem from two community development block grants that would be eliminated under Trump's proposed budget. Some states and cities use those grants to fund local Meals on Wheels programs, according to a story by National Public Radio.
Meals on Wheels volunteer Rich Homerick, of Longmont, loads meals into coolers at the Longmont Senior Center on Tuesday before delivering them to people in the Nelson Park area. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)Other federal money comes to some Meals on Wheels program through a separate funding program under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Trump has proposed cutting the overall HHS budget by 17.9 percent, but it's not clear whether those cuts would affect the Administration for Community Living, which funds nutrition programs for the elderly, according to the Washington Post.
Mary Margaret Cox, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Greeley & Weld County, said the tri-town program is heavily supported by the Greeley program, which does receive federal funding.
The food that goes out to seniors in Frederick, Firestone and Dacono is prepared in the Greeley kitchen, supervised by dietitians, frozen and sent to the Carbon Valley.
While the tri-towns program doesn't directly receive federal funding, Cox said about a third of the Greeley program's budget comes from federal funding. As such, if that funding were cut, Greeley would need to cut back on the money it sends to the tri-towns from donations and grants and the Carbon Valley program would be indirectly affected.
"We would have to work harder to find other sources of money to help us if the federal dollars went away. And then that cuts us short for the program in south Weld County. It's a vicious circle," Cox said.
Cox said she and her board are trying not to panic in order to not alarm the seniors the programs serve. She said she is saying a lot of prayers, trying to have a lot of faith and talking to Colorado's congressional delegation.
"The good lord listens to me pretty good. I've been doing this 47 years and it's been up and down in that length of time. I'm hoping this is just another bubble," Cox said.
Cox said she remembered when Sen. Thomas Eagleton, who would later go on to be a failed democratic vice presidential candidate, introduced the Comprehensive Older Americans Services Amendments bill. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1973, providing the funding scheme that some Meals on Wheels programs still use.
"I just can't think that something that we worked so hard on then, that one person can take it away in the blink of an eye," Cox said.
Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ktonacci
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