A message from Seniors First President/CEO Marsha L. Lorenz
Since the release of the President’s budget blueprint on March 16, 2017, many of you have reached out to Seniors First with concerns about how seniors here in Orange County will be affected should cuts be made to the Meals on Wheels program funding. This initial blueprint does not contain many details, but here’s what we know about the proposed cuts and the danger they pose to our programs.
Nationwide Meals on Wheels member agencies receive an average 35% of their funding from the federal government. Some media outlets have incorrectly reported this number to be 3%, confusing it with the federal funding received by Meals on Wheels America, the national membership organization that does not provide direct services (e.g., meals). This miscommunication dramatically understates the significant impact of any federal budget cuts that may affect our Meals on Wheels program.
It’s important to note that donations made to Meals on Wheels America, the national organization, support awareness and advocacy which are extremely important, but those funds do not go directly to feeding seniors. Only donations made directly to your local Meals on Wheels providers like Seniors First will help to feed people right here in our community. Donate Now.
Our Funding: Roughly 47% of our Meals on Wheels funding comes from the federal government through the Older Americans Act, which was established in 1965 and supports senior programs nationwide. Currently, the President’s budget does not detail how the Act will be affected however, Meals on Wheels America released this statement: “With a stated 17.9% cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services budget, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which these critical services would not be significantly and negatively impacted if enacted into law.”
Another target of the proposed budget is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Seniors First is the recipient of CDBG funding which makes up an additional 9% of our Meals on Wheels program. In short, there is no doubt that the proposed cuts would have severe and dangerous consequences for Orlando’s elderly population.
What funding we do not receive from the federal government comes from county and city funding, individuals, foundations and corporate donations. Our work would not be possible without this support and we are so grateful for the generosity shown by our community.
Finally, there has been speculation in the media that programs like Meals on Wheels are ineffective and unnecessary. We invite you to read this article published in the Washington Post citing numerous studies showing how meal delivery improves health by reducing falls, alleviating isolation, speeding up recovery from hospital stays and more.
I want to personally thank you for your interest and concern. Seniors First will continue to meet with our representatives. We will urge them to speak up for Orlando’s senior citizens, giving them a voice in Washington and keeping their needs a priority as we move through the budget process. If you have questions or comments, we invite you to contact us here.
Thank you for your support,
Marsha L. Lorenz
Seniors First, Inc.
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