Dr. Ada Fisher: Keep Meals on Wheels rolling along

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 26, 2017

The proposal in President Trump’s budget to cut Meals on Wheels to increase funds for the military is wrong and dumb if not augmented elsewhere.

This cut from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as its Division on Aging is in addition to across-the-board cuts under the previous Obama Administration.

As such, assistance for citizens who have often given their life’s blood to the best interest of this nation could potentially be diminished. This program could be blended into that for food and nutrition assistance available to the poor.

Meals on Wheels receives about 35 percent of its funds from the federal government, with the rest provided by donations. For the elderly poor who are trying to remain at home rather than go to a nursing facility — unable to drive to and fro, house rich and income poor (more than a house on one acre of land and a car), ineligible for Medicaid, etc. —Meals on Wheels is a lifeline. Fortunately for many who can afford it but have other limitations, one can purchase such food at a cheap rate. This program works and has shown its value.

The under-appreciated value of Meals on Wheels is that it also provides someone to visit folks who are homebound. As such they can call family, friends, social services or emergency assistance if recipients are found in distress.

When I provided such for some neighbors against their will, they informed me later how much they looked forward to the visits and delivery of food daily. Aging on no retirement had decreased their grocery budget, and taste buds vastly diminished their cooking sense of taste. Living far away from family, it was reassuring that someone visited them daily.

There are also an abundance of untapped options to supplement this program,  including college caring programs where the elderly could be invited to take courses on campus and have lunch at a reduced rate. The older generation and younger folks need to interact, and this could be a positive for both. Churches and local institutions should designate a part of their collections not just for foreign missions but also for those at home in their local communities. Family members need to reconnect and appreciate a family meal is a tremendous bonding opportunity.

In all our cutting, make sure vital safety nets are still in place.

Dr. Ada M. Fisher is author of “Common Sense Conservative Prescriptions: Good for What Ails Us, Book 1” (available through Amazon.com) and is the N.C. Republican National Committeewoman.