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Communities worry about proposal to cut ‘Meals on Wheels’ program

ALPINE – A 43-year-old program is in jeopardy of losing federal funding after President Trump’s budget proposal called for cutting certain government funding.

Trump is proposing a 17.98 percent cut of the Department of Health and Human Services, which provides most of the government's support for the “Meals on Wheels” program.

The program gets a third of its funding, about $1.4 billion, from the federal government.

For seniors who live in Alpine and receive meals from the program, it’s more than just a meal.

Every Monday for the past seven years, Billie Paul, a volunteer for the Mountain Land Meals on Wheels program, has dropped off food to seniors like Jeanne Blackburn.

Blackburn signed up a year ago after she could no longer drive.

“It means a lot. I don't drive anymore so it's wonderful to see people and receive a meal,” Blackburn said.

Lon Lott, a member of the Alpine City Council tagged along and saw firsthand how the program helps the sick, elderly and veterans.

“It's a needed program. Needed for those who are homebound,” said Lott.

For Paul, she says she’s nervous of what comes next. According to Paul, recipients are worried their meals will be cut but assured them the federal grant they use won’t be impacted. Paul’s Mountain Land Meals on Wheels provides meals for people in Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties. Still, other Utah communities will take a hit.

“I can't imagine, it would be devastating to those who are in big cities that don't know their neighbors and don't have other resources," Blackburn said.

Thousands of Utahns have benefited from the program. In 2016, Meals on Wheels provided 135,000 meals to 1.300 different seniors.

Ken Timms appreciates the delivery service that feeds him and his wife. He hopes the president will reconsider.

“Some people that will be the only opportunity they have,” said Timms.

For more information about the Meals on Wheels program click here.