Local Meals on Wheels programs reflect nationwide concerns

On a recent morning, a woman holding a shopping basket filled with cereal, Polish sausage and Caesar salad, walked upstairs to a condo unit in Laguna Woods.

As usual, Kim Roberts, 62, and her cat, Scout, were waiting on the other side of the door to receive Roberts’ meals for the day.

Roberts smiled and motioned Regina Granville, a Meals on Wheels volunteer for seven years, inside her home. The two exchanged pleasantries and Granville set the food in the kitchen. Then she walked over to stroke the black and white cat’s back.

Granville is one of 100-plus volunteers from Laguna Hills-based Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center who brings Roberts and 170 other people in the area food to their kitchens five days a week.

“It’s helped me immensely because I had a stroke,” said Roberts, a Meals on Wheels recipient for nearly 10 years. “I do have help, but (groceries) would be a lot to carry upstairs for me.”

Meals on Wheels is a nationwide program that provides meals to 2.4 million seniors each year for little to no cost. For the homebound seniors who rely on the program, many claim it is their lifeline for food and human interaction.

Now the program may be in jeopardy. At a White House briefing on March 16, the Trump administration’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney revealed Meals on Wheels and similar programs may be cut with the new budget blueprint, specifically the Community Services Block Grant that funds many such programs.

This could affect 3,000-plus people in Orange County who receive more than 1.4 million meals per year through its Meals on Wheels programs, Renee Ramirez, director of OC Community Services, said.

“Nothing is official,” Ramirez said. “The county hasn’t decided if there are truly cuts, can they use other monies, maybe reserves.”

Additionally, the county’s Senior Nutrition Program serves 9,000-plus seniors who rely on congregate meals – a program in which mobile seniors can come to senior centers to…

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