COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Central Ohio’s Meals on Wheels agency is worried about the future of the program after President Donald Trump released his budget proposal, which may block grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development
LifeCare Alliance is the third largest Meals on Wheels provider in the country and runs the program in Central Ohio. The agency currently has enough funding to provide meals through 2017, but now with a fourth of its budget in jeopardy, they don’t know what the future will hold.
Jim Kimnack volunteers two times a week delivering lunch and sometimes dinner to senior citizens and the disabled through Central Ohio’s Meals on Wheels program.
“The thing that really motivated me was my mother had this service done for her, so I just wanted to pay back,” Kimnack said.
That was 20 years ago. The community-based service started nationally back in 1974. Columbus was the second city in the US to participate. Now, some of its federal funding may be taken away.
“When I heard about this cut, it doesn’t surprise me. But I have heard anywhere from 18 to 50 percent reduction. That would be the last dagger,” said Charles Gehring, President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance.
LifeCare Alliance delivers over a million meals a year. The agency receives its funding from the federal, state, local and county governments.
“I’ve been here almost 16 years,” Gehring said. “I have never had to say to somebody, ‘I cannot feed you tomorrow.’ Never had to do that. And I don’t know what that’s going to feel like, and I don’t want to feel it.”
Unlike many cities across the county, LifeCare Alliance has never had to turn away a client asking for assistance. But with President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, funding will be scarce. The agency will have to start placing people on a waiting list.
After having a stroke two years ago, Darlene Golden has been receiving Meals on Wheels every day. She isn’t sure what she would do if her meals stopped coming to her home.
“I would have to depend on my children or someone to maybe help me out,” said Golden.
Gehring hopes that never has to happen.
“I just want our clients to know that for the remainder of 2017, I personally guarantee you we are delivering meals. That’s not changing,” Gehring.
Since the recession, LifeCare Alliance has had $5 million cut from their budget. Through fundraising and other services, they have been able to continue its programs. They hope to keep this going in light of Trump’s budget proposal.