Meals on Wheels organizers concerned about Trump’s budget proposal

Meals on Wheels organizers concerned about Trump’s budget proposal

Organizers with Madison’s Meals on Wheels program are concerned about President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, which could affect community programs nationwide.

The local Meals on Wheels program is funded separately through a different act and therefore may not face cuts like those being proposed at the national level, but one organizer said the program goes beyond food.

“Not only are we trying to stop senior hunger, but we’re much more than just a meal. We’re companionship for these people. Most of these people we’re the only person they see in any given day,” volunteer coordinator Gina Riesen said.

Cuts to the program nationally could have unforeseen consequences, she said.

“It really scares me. We’re safety for their families because we check in on them. We do have a protocol if they don’t answer the door or the phone — we follow up on them. And we’ve definitely saved lives by making sure these people are okay,” Riesen said.

The Madison program serves nearly 300 clients each and every day, including Donna Green. Green, who turns 80 next month, relies on the program for her daily dinner.

“It keeps me going. The food keeps me going. I don’t know where I’m going to, but I’m on my way,” Green said.

Green agrees that food isn’t the only aspect of the program that benefits her and the others it serves.

“Oh, they’re fantastic. They ask how you’re doing. They start a conversation, and they really care about the person,” she said.

Meals on Wheels serves 2.4 million people nationwide each year.

While the local Meals on Wheels program won’t see cuts, other area programs, including homeless services and business and nonprofit loans funded by community development block grants, would be affected by the president’s plan to eliminate the grants .