Proposed budget cuts from feds could send ripple effects impacing Meals on Wheels

Palm Beach County leaders bring attention to issue
Posted at 11:42 AM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 22:36:38-04

Meals on Wheels in Palm Beach County is calling on the public for help. The agency anticipates an increase in clients if federal budget cuts come to fruition.

President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts billions of dollars to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of that money goes to Meals on Wheels programs across the country in the form of Community Development Block Grants.

In Palm Beach County, Meals on Wheels does not receive any federal funds, according to Executive Director Palm Calzadilla.

But Calzadilla fears federal cuts will hit other agencies forcing them to stop offering services. That could, in turn, lead to a ripple effect of seniors turning to Meals on Wheels looking for services they lost from other agencies.

“With the senior population growing, there is going to be a bigger need,” Calzadilla said. “So we’re going to need more volunteers, more support, more donations.”

Palm Beach County government leaders volunteered Friday at Meals on Wheels. They packed and delivered meals as part of the March for Meals campaign. Its goal is to raise awareness about the organization.

County Mayor Paulette Burdick said the local governments cannot provide all the funds to cover any potential cuts in federal grants. She said it would be “vitally important” to work with state, local and federal partners to address any cuts.

Burdick added that many seniors could benefit by an expansion of Meals on Wheels in Palm Beach County.

“Our priority is to try to expand the opportunity and bring awareness to our community that we need funding and their help in volunteering in programs like this,” Burdick said.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said she and the city’s senior leadership team have worked with Meals on Wheels for years. She encourages people to volunteer with the agency.

“You get more out of it than you’re giving,” she said. “To be able to bring food to seniors, and sometimes we’re the only people they see. I remember it was one gentleman’s birthday, we wished him happy birthday and he said you’re the only people who will do that today. So this is critical.”

Calzadilla said the local Meals on Wheels chapter has operated in Palm Beach County for six years. It provides roughly 160 seniors with six meals a week. Donations, fundraisers, and private grants keep the service running.

If you’d like to help by volunteering or making a donation, click here or call 561-802-6979 for more information.

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