Money for social services hangs in balance amid federal budget talks

Programs like Meals on Wheels could lose funding completely in the Executive Branch's proposed budget.
Programs like Meals on Wheels could lose funding completely in the Executive Branch's proposed budget.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — President Donald Trump unveiled his first budget blueprint, which included a proposed $54 billion in cuts to large parts of the federal government and popular programs, both big and small.

The plan would cut funding entirely to several agencies and programs that help fund Meals on Wheels just to name a few. The fate of some of the other sources of funding for Meals on Wheels is unknown at this time. Those block grant programs are the Community Services Block Grant and Community Development Block Grant. The uncertainty has many local stakeholders worried that their social services might lie in the cross-hairs of budget cuts.

Programs like Meals on Wheels could lose funding completely in the Executive Branch's proposed budget.
Programs like Meals on Wheels could lose funding completely in the Executive Branch’s proposed budget.

The fight to keep social services alive and ease concerns for the residents that rely on those services everyday remains an uphill climb for local organizations. Hundreds of people locally take advantage of social services like Meals on Wheels. The federal government typically provides grants to states so they can fund those programs.

“I would feel let down if anything happened to it,” Meals on Wheels recipient Mabel Cosby said.

Dr. Fred Gordon chairs the political science department at Columbus State University. He says potential federal budget cuts could threaten popular social programs.

“You have an ambitious budget,” Gordon said. “But you don’t have the necessary revenues necessary to equal that.”

As federal funding decreases, states must make up the difference.

“The challenge will be to make sure everything gets its true value in terms of what’s a cost and what’s a benefit,” Gordon said.

Laura Johnson with the city of Columbus tracks the federal funds that fuel social programs in town.

“It’s never been proposed to be eliminated completely in the federal budget,” Johnson said. “So this is the first time.”

She says funding has steadily decreased millions of dollars over the past five years. Sequestration, a change in presidential administrations, and other talks are some of the contributing factors to the decrease.

“As of right now, it’s just kind of up in the air,” Johnson explained. “We really don’t know how we’d be able to move forward if the funding is cut.”

Military spending and national security are top priorities for many Americans. But lawmakers must weigh keeping social programs afloat versus cutting the funding to provide for the national defense and welfare.

 

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