ALBANY — If President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the federal Community Development Block Grants program goes through, it won’t end Southwest Georgia’s Meal on Wheels program, but it would adversely affect funding for the program that delivers hot meals to elderly shut-ins.
A bigger problem would be if funding were reduced under the Older Americans Act, a significant source of revenue for the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging that operates Meals on Wheel and other services for elderly residents of Albany and Southwest Georgia.
Council Executive Director Kay Hind, who was away from her office Friday, said she didn’t have exact figures available on funding but that a small percentage of the revenue for Meals on Wheels comes from CDBG funds that the council receives through the city of Albany.
“If the funding were cut, it would affect what we do,” she said, but it would not shut down the program that serves 150 elderly adults in Albany and 800 in the council’s service area.
Meals on Wheels provides a hot meal that is delivered daily to each of those participants who cannot leave their homes. The council also provides congregate meals for those 60 and older who can travel to its facilities.
A bigger problem, Hind said, would be if there were a significant reduction in funding the council receives through the Older Americans Act of 1965.
“That’s our primary funding,” Hind said, adding the organization also gets a small amount of federal funding through Social Services Block Grants.
That Older Americans Act funding in administered by the Administration of Community Living within the federal Health and Human Services Department now headed by Tom Price, who resigned as the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to take the HHS secretary position.
Nationally, Meals on Wheels America, comprising 5,000 local-level programs, gets 35 percent of its funding through the ACL and 3 percent in CDBGs. MOWA uses the GDBG funding for the National Research Center on Nutrition and Aging.
According to the ACL website, Title III funding for the state of Georgia in 2016 was set at more than $29.4 million, with more than $7.8 million in supportive services, just under $11.5 million for congregate meals, just under $6 million for home meals, just under $460,000 for preventative services and just under $3.7 million for National Family Caregiver Support.
The president’s budget requests $69 billion for HHS, $15.1 billion — 17.9 percent — less than the 2017 annualized level. The White House said the funding excluded certain mandatory spending changes but included additional funds for program integrity and implementing the 21st Century CURES Act.
Hind, who is retiring from the council this month after nearly a half-century on the job, noted that no cuts were set in stone yet.
“This is just the first step,” Hind said about the 2018 budget proposal. “It’ll be a long way to what gets cut.”