Meals On Wheels cuts could affect West Virginia seniors

J.R. Bailey is legally blind and receives Meals On Wheels for assistance. (WCHS/WVAH)

President Donald Trump's budget proposal calls for big cuts to federal funding across the board, including programs that depend on voluntary spending like Meals On Wheels.

For nine years, Meals On Wheels has been delivered to J.R. Bailey's home.

"I really didn't want it," Bailey said.

Bailey is legally blind, but it took some persuasion by his cousin to get him the help he needed.

"It's really been nice. For anybody that's got a handicap. I got a whole bunch of friends, they can't stand up at the stove," Bailey said.

Meals On Wheels funding may or may not be on the chopping block.

Under Trump's budget proposal, the community block grant and the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services are facing hits.

Meals On Wheels is funded in part from those sources.

Commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau Senior Services Robert Roswall said it's unclear now.

Roswall aid his department has seen cuts like this before.

"They took it from where it hurt the most. We did get that back eventually, but it was big cuts," Roswall said.

When a department only provides services, he said, it's bound to hit people on some level, hurting the second eldest population in the country.

Federal funding is based solely on the state's population, not on need.

Jennifer Waggener runs Faith In Action, a program that helps the elderly who may not reach state requirements, but still require assistance.

"It's going to put an almost unbearable strain on programs like mine that exist to fill the gaps, that are already present," Waggener said. "It takes a village. I mean there is just not enough services out there for the senior population that we have."

Bailey said he hopes those cuts don't touch meal services, since so many people rely on them.

"I know people who will probably eat cereal all day long they wouldn't have a nutritious meal to eat," Bailey said.

Meals On Wheels said its donations surged to 50 times their daily rate on Thursday. The organization delivers meals to 2.4 million seniors around the country each year.

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