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Federal, state cuts to Meals on Wheels could impact DuPage County

The impact of federal and state cuts to Meals on Wheels, if passed, could be devastating, officials told the Bugle.

President Donald Trump presented a proposed budget in May that could cut spending toward the program for seniors; and it could bring concerns to local social services already losing state funding.

While a president’s budget will typically require review by Congress, the proposal as submitted recently intends to highlight the Trump administration’s agenda and how it will prioritize the country’s needs.

“It would be devastating not only for Downers Grove, but also the county, the state and the country,” said Mary Lynn Krolak, executive director of DuPage County Senior Citizens Council. “The levels of funding had flat-lined the last 15 years. The amount stays the same, though costs increase. If funds were cut, it would devastate us. We are hoping for no cuts to the [U.S.] Department of Health and Human Services.”

Downers Grove Township Supervisor Mark Thoman agreed.

“It would have an impact,” he said. “Meals on Wheels makes deliveries to over 380 residents [in Downers Grove Township.] Each stop consists of more than one resident.”

The program, however, does more than deliver meals, Thoman said. A stable of volunteers work to obtain physical and mental assessments of the seniors they serve, as well as an assessment of the household.

“They will make suggestions if they note any issues,” Thoman said. “They can help connect them with services.”

This budget cycle, the State of Illinois shorted the Township by more than $210,000, Thoman said.

“That’s a lot of money to feed senior citizens and keep them in their homes,” he said. “The most effective way to serve them is to keep seniors at home.”

Funding to support Meals on Wheels is all done based on population for seniors through the Department of Health and Human Services, and multiple sources are employed through governmental bodies, agencies and fundraising efforts. Typically, funds are extended to the states through the county, and they are distributed in the amount of $25,000 per township in DuPage County.

To fill the gap, some governmental bodies in the county have sought to provide funding.

Thoman said Downers Grove Township recognizes the value and benefit of the services DuPage County Senior Services Council provides to residents.

“The trustees recently approved [an allotment] supporting the Meals on Wheels program to the $25,000 level with funds they can use to keep them going,” Thoman said.

DuPage County Senior Services Council serves 4,000 residents throughout the county.

Krolak wanted to thank governmental bodies, like Downers Grove Township, for supporting Meals on Wheels.

“I am appreciative of the donation Downers Grove Township gave to support us,” she said. “It was $25,000. We appreciate partnerships to support costs to serve seniors. It is a community collaboration—a great partnership. I wish other townships would do the same.”

Krolak added, “The relationship with municipalities and townships are more critical than ever.”

Krolak gave thanks to legislators for taking an active in role in the effort to secure funding to support Meals on Wheels and urged elected officials to pass a State budget.

“The State needs a budget by July 30 or another measure to continue,” she said.

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