There has been a lot of media criticism of Mulvaney for suggesting that the popular Meals and Wheels program does not work or is “just not showing results.”
But, because of tweets and snippets posted on the Web, it appears his comments have been misinterpreted. He was not talking about Meals on Wheels, but about a program in Housing and Urban Development Department known as CDBG, or community development block grants.
There are some scattered municipalities which use some of their CDBG funds to help fund nutrition programs for the elderly. But most of the funding for Meals on Wheels comes from a separate program run out of the Health and Human Services Department, said Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications at Meals on Wheels.
“The FY 2016 budget level for the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program (through HHS) was $834,753,000,” she said. “The 2017 ask (proposed by House) is $848,557,000.”
The Trump administration has proposed a 17.9 percent cut in funding for HHS, but it has provided no detail on whether that would also impact the Administration for Community Living, which funds nutrition programs for the elderly. Bertolette said it was fair to assume there would be an impact.
But Alison Foreman, the director of Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, said while government funding made up about 30 percent of its funds, almost all of that came from the HHS program. But “last year Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development did issue pass thru [CDBG] dollars to YMOW for vehicle updates and staff support,” she said.
Here is the ... quote by Mulvaney at the press briefing.
As you know, or I think you know that Meals on Wheels is not a federal program. It’s part of that community — the CDBG — the block grants that we give to the states. And then many states make the decision to use that money on Meals on Wheels.
Here’s what I can tell you about CDBGs because that’s what we fund — right? — is that we spend $150 billion on those programs since the 1970s. The CDBGs have been identified as programs since I believe the first — actually, the second Bush administration as ones that were just not showing any results. We can’t do that anymore. We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good. And Meals on Wheels sounds great — again, that’s a state decision to fund that particular portion to. But to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, look, we want to give you money for programs that don’t work — I can’t defend that anymore. We cannot defend that anymore. We’re $20 trillion in debt.
Later in the briefing, Mulvaney was asked about after-school programs that might be cut. “They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better in school,” he said. “Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence of actually helping results, helping kids do better in school.”