Waco: Meals on Wheels officials concerned about proposed budget

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Local Meals on Wheels officials are concerned about President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which they fear could mean cuts in federal funding.

(Photo by Nestor Montoya)

The organization delivers meals to about 950 residents in McLennan, Falls and Hill counties.

Melody McDermitt, the executive director of Meals and Wheels, which operates the local Meals on Wheels program, said funding is already a strain and that there is a waiting list 50 people long.

Half of the organization’s budget comes from community sources, and the other half from a combination of funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and from the Older Americans Act of 1965.

About 69 cents per meal comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture alone.

Under Mr. Trump’s proposed budget the U.S. Department of Agriculture would see a 21 percent budget cut of $4.7 billion, and funding under the Older Americans Act through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would see a 17.9 percent cut.

"Any reduction in funds is extremely difficult to manage,” McDermitt said.

McDermitt said specific details as to how much they would be affected have not been released.

"I think at this point we still don't have all of the information we need to really see how it's going to impact (us),” McDermitt said.

"We haven't had a chance to look at just how dramatically it might affect us, we are seeing enough things that do cause us some concern,” she said.

She said if the proposed budget is passed, the waiting list could grow in size and also the number of residents who benefit from the services could decrease.

Residents like Lonzetta Lewis who has a fixed income relies on the service.

"Meals on Wheels is a very important business because it furnishes the people that don't have a whole lot. It feeds them,” Lewis said.

She said it gives her a nutritious meal daily, and a wellness check from volunteers.

"It is a lot of people that are just really not able to get up and do this for themselves,” she said.