Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. (PVI) Statement on “Skinny Budget” Blueprint

Dear Friends of PVI,

Recently, the initial details of the President’s 2018 budget blueprint have emerged and have started an important conversation on social media platforms as well as both large and small media outlets across the country. Because of the essential work and impact that our Meals on Wheels program provides here in San Mateo County, any threatened budget cuts must be looked at carefully and responded to promptly.As CEO of Peninsula Volunteers, Inc., I am working with our team here as well as officials in San Mateo County to respond to any budget cuts that may be proposed. It is important to remember that as of right now, these budget cuts are just being proposed. We are in the beginning stages of the process and there is still a long way to go. In this non-stop news cycle and social media reality we live in, it’s our responsibility not only to stand up for these services, but also to speak about what we know, not what may be projected in the media. I’ve summarized what we know so far in the bullet points below.

What: On March 16, the President sent his Budget Blueprint, also known as the “America First Budget” or “Skinny Budget” to Congress, with a plan to release further details in the coming months. The blueprint proposed cuts to discretionary spending in order to pay for increased defense spending starting in October. The Department of Health and Human Services could receive a budget cut across the board, as well as face the reduction or elimination of specific programs. Both sets of cuts could impact Meals on Wheels and Rosener House. The Blueprint does not yet say which HHS programs will be cut, so we do not know how our programs will be affected.

Who is Impacted? Every day, PVI’s Meals on Wheels program provides over 500 meals to seniors throughout San Mateo County, delivered by volunteers and PVI staff. This comes out to over 2,500 meals a week, served to over 850 needy seniors. For many of these seniors, Meals on Wheels is their only source of food.  Client Benefits: Our Meals on Wheels program offers more than just fresh, hot nutritious meals. The program is also the most reliable way for our clients to fight the isolation of growing older alone – 40% of the seniors we serve live alone. Our program also provides our clients with quarterly health and nutrition assessments, referrals to needed community services, and dietary counseling. Our delivery personnel provide wellness checks and weekend meals also available.

Budget Details: The “Skinny Budget” proposes the elimination of the $3 Billion Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program, one of the sources of funding for Meals on Wheels pro- grams around the country. In our case, CBDG gives us $22,500 of funding annually, about 1.5% of our MOW program and grant revenue. More importantly for us, detailed plans for a key source of our program’s funding, the Older Americans Act (OAA), have not yet been released. The OAA provides 35% of the total funding for Meals on Wheels nationally. For our MOW program, the percentage is about 45% of program and grant revenue. OAA funds also provide about 9% of the program and grant revenue for our Rosener House senior day care services. With a proposed 17.9% cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services budget , which funds the OAA, PVI would need to secure an additional $161,000 in community support on top of the generous donations we already recieve.

The Need is Growing: Aside from any proposed changes to Federal funding, the need for our services is exponentially growing. This past January, we expanded our service territory to North San Mateo County so that we are now the sole MOW provider for almost all of the county. Our program is critical. According to the Healthy Community Collaborative of San Mateo County, many seniors face hunger every day: 1 in 8 seniors must choose between paying rent, buying medication, or purchasing food.

A Bipartisan History of Supporting Seniors: Ironically, the month of March honors the signing and enhancement of the Older Americans Act by President Richard Nixon on March 22, 1972. Meals on Wheels programs around the country celebrate this historic, bi-partisan bill through the annual March For Meals campaign, which we are marking with our own commemorative event on March 22. We await more details on the proposed Federal budget, and we are ready to advocate for home-bound seniors here in San Mateo County and across the country.

Together, we must do everything that we can to spread the news about these budget cut proposals. We at Peninsula Volunteers, Inc. are glad that we have a commitment from our Congressional representatives to funding the OAA. We also have donors committed to keeping our program going. It will not be easy, but we are all in this together.

What Can You Do to Support:

Call your elected representatives:
Advocate: Please share this message with friends and family


Peter Olson
CEO Peninsula Volunteers, Inc.
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