Home House Republicans threaten to cut Meals on Wheels funding in debt-limit plan

House Republicans threaten to cut Meals on Wheels funding in debt-limit plan

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A Politico story reports that the Biden administration identified 1 million “largely home-bound seniors would lose access to food through the Meals on Wheels program” under the U.S. House Republican Conference’s debt limit plan.

Proposed funding cuts tied to fiscal year 2022 budget levels would not allow the program to meet growing demand across the United States. Meals on Wheels supports seniors who are homebound, live in rural areas or who are isolated. In 2022, more than 1.9 million home-delivered meals were served in Virginia.

U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia reacted today to the proposal.

“Fundamentally, we should never let hyper-partisanship cause seniors to go hungry. And unfortunately, these broad-brush cuts would hurt some of the most vulnerable members of our communities — including homebound seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels,” Spanberger, a Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, said. “This program — powered by dedicated volunteers and retirees — makes sure that Virginia seniors can have a hot meal and remain in their home for as long as possible. As a result, it often helps them avoid an expensive hospital stay or the long-term financial stress that comes with living in a nursing home.”

In Virginia, more than 440,000 seniors live alone. A 2019 Virginia-specific report states that the average cost one Meals on Wheels meal delivery to a Virginia senior costs less than $9. However, the cost of one day in the hospital is nearly $2,000 and the cost of one day in a nursing home, on average, is $245.

“In the face of proposed cuts, we need to make the case for Meals on Wheels, protect the Virginians who depend on it, and stand up for seniors across our Commonwealth at risk of hunger. For thousands of Virginians, Meals on Wheels isn’t just a daily meal — it’s a daily friendly face, a daily human connection, and a daily reminder of their dignity and their importance in our communities,” Spanberger said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.