Given the announcement of President Trump’s proposed cuts to federally-funded Health and Human Services programs, Meals on Wheels has been in the news this past week, and I’d like to comment on behalf of our local Montgomery County organization. We are an independent 501(c) 3 serving all of Montgomery County. We receive our funding from a variety of sources, with about 30% from federal funding for the Meals on Wheels Program.
I have worked for many nonprofits, and what sets Meals on Wheels apart is the return on investment for the dollars spent due to its unique model. It is one of the best social solutions ever created, benefiting the elderly client, the family, the taxpayer, the volunteer, the community, the hospitals, on and on. All of this for a mere $6 per meal delivery, or $1,500 per client annually. Insanely low for what amounts to an important public health service.
Meals on Wheels provides consistent nutrition to homebound elderly, who otherwise could not have it. This often prevents early admission to nursing homes, hospital readmissions, and addresses general hunger with the frail and elderly right in your neighborhood.
Meals on Wheels provides a safety check via our staff or trained volunteers. If we see a problem, we notify someone, from an emergency contact to Adult Protective Services. We do this on a daily basis.
Meals on Wheels provides greatly needed human connection to a lonely and forgotten group. This is a from quick “hello” to a warm invitation to share Thanksgiving dinner. This being, by far, the most beautiful and irreplaceable aspect of the program.
Our Meals on Wheels cook just graduated culinary school and the food is phenomenal given the industrial context. He pulls out the processed foods, makes his own chicken stock, and the kitchen smells amazing every day. We are not your typical Meals on Wheels in this way, and have been invited to participate in the area chambers of commerces’ Taste of the Town and Tastefest events.
I am very proud of the work we do. Approximately 8,000 meals each month at a low 7% administrative expense.
So we ask ourselves this week, should the federal government fund Meals on Wheels? The honest answer is that this is for our elected officials to decide. A longer conversation.
The better question is, should your community have a Meals on Wheels operation? The answer is an absolute no-brainer, “YES!”. Luckily, this is for you to decide. Meals on Wheels is a valuable community service, and in the backdrop of today it will require increased private funding, and that is how we prefer to move forward.
Regarding federal funds, Meals on Wheels Montgomery County could just simply hope for the best and put our future in the hands of political trends. Or, we can gain momentum with just a little more community support, fill the gap, and serve our elderly with this amazing program.
If only 1,500 supporters of our mission will visit our website and commit to a recurring $15 monthly donation (the cost of 3 lattes), this would secure our program.
I’ll end with this humbling realization I see each day. Someday you might find yourself old and alone. Your spouse has passed away and your children have their own busy lives. Your health in decline. You might wonder some days if anybody knows or cares if you’re still alive. Then comes a friendly knock at the door with a good meal, a smiling face asking “how are you?” with a quick hug. For $6. Don’t let this program go.