Senior-focused food delivery service Meal on Wheels has seen a huge surge in support from communities across the country in the form of private donations and volunteer sign-ups since a portion of the program's funding was threatened by the White House's proposed budget on Thursday. Although Meals on Wheels is not a federal program, as reported by USA Today, it depends on the community development block grants that will be eliminated under the proposed budget.
"We are seeing a big spike in interest and engagement on all levels," Meals on Wheels San Francisco representative Karl Robillard told BuzzFeed. "It is clear that many Americans feel strongly that taking care of homebound seniors and the elderly is a clear moral and economic imperative."
Each year, through its network of 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs, Meals on Wheels serves 2.4 million people aged 60 and over. A study conducted in 2014 found that programs like Meals on Wheels improve diet quality, improve nutrition and reduce food insecurity amongst participants. But the benefits of such programs extend beyond just access to healthy foods. Studies have previously shown that participants in Meals on Wheels are less lonely and have improved quality of life due to increased human contact.
As the program awaits what changes Congress will make to the proposed budget, it is clear that support for Meals on Wheels remains strong amongst most Americans.
"The good news that it has rallied folks around the cause and reminded folks that they can't really take these kinds of services for granted," said Patrick Rowan, executive director of Metro Meals on Wheels, told CNN. "It's reassuring that the public has stepped up."
(H/T NBC News)