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Local News

Impact of proposed Meals on Wheels cuts uncertain

JOLIET – The potential effect of President Donald Trump’s budget proposal on Meals on Wheels has yet to be determined. Not only must the budget go through Congress, where all proposed cuts will be reviewed, but the level of federal funding supporting local Meals on Wheels programs varies widely with some not using it at all.

The head of the agency that administers Meals on Wheels in Will County recently told The Herald-News that the Trump budget proposal would affect 581 residents in the county.

The extent of that effect, however, is difficult to determine because federal funds are not the sole source of money for Meals on Wheels programs.

Vincent Clark, executive director for Kankakee County Community Services, which administers Meals on Wheels in Will County, did not return phone calls this week seeking clarification on the future effect.

But federal money for Meals on Wheels varies depending on the local program.

“It’s really on a case-by-case basis,” said Diana Konate, a legislative aide for U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville.

Konate said Friday that she had not heard back from local officials to determine the effect in Will County.

But even the effect in federal cuts depends on which federal program is used by the local Meals on Wheels agency, Konate said.

“The big bucket of federal money that goes to Meals on Wheels comes from different places,” she said.

One Meals on Wheels program in Southern Illinois, Konate noted, would not be affected at all by federal cuts in funding. But the cuts could have an effect in the city of Chicago, which uses Community Development Block Grants for the program. The Trump budget proposes eliminating the $3 billion CDBG program.

Jameson Cunningham, communications director for U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, whose district includes parts of Will County, said in an email that Meals on Wheels programs will continue because most of their funding comes from individual contributions, foundations and corporate grants.

Even how much federal funding is lost is far from decided.

The president’s budget proposal “is in no way a binding document,” Cunningham said in the email. “Congress will continue to write the budget and follow that with the regular appropriations process where spending decisions ultimately will be made.”

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