Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Office of Management and Budget.
One element of President Trump’s budget proposal could reduce funding for Meals on Wheels, which delivers nearly a million meals a day to the sick and elderly.
At lunchtime, Meals on Wheels volunteer Sandra Bush makes visits to 18 seniors in Macon, Georgia. One of them is Sandra Deshazer, who said her arthritis makes it difficult to cook.
“If you didn’t have this service?” CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller asked Deshazer.
“It would be really bad because people like myself, I don’t walk or drive any more,” Deshazer said.
“They just can’t afford to go to the grocery store and buy all the things they need,” Bush said. “They have to depend on someone else.”
That’s where Meals on Wheels comes in: a critical lifeline for 2.4 million seniors, veterans and the disabled. A third of its $1.4 billion budget comes from the federal government, but proposed budget cuts are putting the 43-year-old program at risk.
“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good… to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, ‘Look we want to give you money for programs that don’t work,’” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said.
However, in a statement to CBS News, OMB communications director John Czwartacki said: “Director Mulvaney was simply stating that ‘Meals on Wheels’ is not a federal program, and as such, it is neither mentioned nor funded in the federal budget. In fact, it’s a program that’s a truly American response to a need – neighbors helping neighbors – and a praiseworthy effort. It’s unfortunate that some tried to incorrectly use this noble program to protect other wasteful and duplicative spending.”
The program works for 56-year-old Linda Preast, who signed up for the program two years ago after a stroke left her in a wheelchair. Meals on Wheels delivers to her every weekday. Like most residents in Jones County, she voted for Donald Trump.
“Are you surprised?” Miller asked.
“Yeah,” Preast said. “Because he was told- I was under the influence that he was going to help us.”
“What would you tell him to convince him not to cut this program?” Miller asked.
“What if it was your momma?” Preast said.
After the president’s budget proposal was released, Meals on Wheels reportedly received a surge of donations and offers to volunteer.