Local Meals on Wheels group reacts to proposed Trump budget cuts

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SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- A local Meals on Wheels group is speaking up following President Trump's proposed budget that could eliminate federal funding for organization.

"If this were to go away there would be quite a few people that would be quite frankly destitute," said Penny Parker the director of the Beachwood, Shaker and University Heights Meals on Wheels program. "It's a little disturbing to me personally that funding might be cut because people are hungry, hunger exists."

In the proposed 2018 budget titled, "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," the Trump administration asks for $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It's a $6.2 billion or 13.2 percent decrease in funding.

The president's budget would eliminate federal funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, a saving of $3 billion dollars.

Volunteers argue you can't put a price on delivering food to people that may not be able to physically shop for themselves or afford the cost of food.

"If they have to go out and buy food it will be much more expensive," said volunteer driver Jane Baldwin.

The Trump Administration argues the federal government spent more than $150 billion on this block grant since 1974. In reference to the Community Development Block Grant program the budget reads,"...the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results. The Budget devolves community and economic development activities to the State and local level, and redirects Federal resources to other activities."

Meals on Wheels services do not all receive blanket federal funding. Currently the national program receives about 3 percent of federal funding. Some programs like the one in Shaker Heights are operated as a 501(c)3, or charitable organization while others could be hurt by the elimination of federal government funds.

Volunteers tell Fox 8 both types of programs depend on public support. They say taking food away from those that need it most is not a federal cost saving measure the Trump Administration should focus on.

"I think they are dead wrong because these people really depend on nutritious meals on a regular basis," said Baldwin.

You can read the proposed 2018 budget in its entirety here.