Letter to the Community from the Executive Directors of Meals on Wheels in Monterey County
Dear Friends of Monterey County,
You’ve probably heard about the America First federal budget that was recently released by the 45th President of the United States. This blueprint of a budget, known as the Skinny budget, suggests that the funding Meals on Wheels receives from the Housing and Urban Development agency be eliminated.
Budget director Mick Mulvaney said “A program like Meals on Wheels sounds great…but it’s not showing any results…we can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good…”
Really? Perhaps this is another alternative fact coming out of this administration. As Executive Directors for non-profits, we must deal with the hard cold facts daily;
- The fact that our funding continues to decline annually while the demand rises
- The fact that 1 in every 6 seniors experiences food insecurity
- The reality that many of our clients struggle to live on an income of less than $1000 per month.
- The fact that many of our clients are isolated and without family or friends to help them.
- The fact that many of our clients are unable to shop or cook for themselves due to a variety of reasons, be it physical, lack of transportation, medical issues, etc.
These are the facts. There are no alternatives.
Yes, our programs sound good, because they are good. We see the results of our efforts every day. If you need support of this fact, just ask one of our hundreds of clients, or one of our kind and dedicated volunteers. Ask a local elected official such as Mayor Gunter of Salinas or Mayor Kampe of Pacific Grove who have actually gone out with our volunteers to deliver meals to our clients. Our services transcend just meal delivery, in the words of a Volunteer Driver “I deliver meals and smiles and so much more. I invite any doubters to ride along with me as I give counsel, intervene in neighbor disputes, report medical emergencies, contact authorities when elder abuse is suspected, listen to their stories, and join with families at end of life. Meals On Wheels is a lifeline for our seniors in need.”
Our jobs have not been political, until now. There has been much talk about making America great again. We have to ask “Is this how we start”, with the defunding of programs that feed and nurture frail homebound senior members of our communities?
Many may not realize there are two Meals on Wheels programs in our county, Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula and Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley. Both have similar missions and are completely separate non-profits. Together, on a typical non-profit shoestring budget, we serve homebound seniors throughout Monterey County, from Bradley and Arroyo Seco in South County to Big Sur and Carmel Valley on the Peninsula.
For both programs, our job is to feed and nurture some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of our community; seniors, 60 and older who can no longer shop and/or cook for themselves. Both programs have had this job since 1972. Our agencies are incredibly efficient and effective in operations. On a relatively small budget and with the leverage and power of volunteers, we serve hundreds of people weekly!
Both programs receive approximately $330,000 in governmental funds, through CDBG and Title III Older Americans Act funding. Without these funds our services would be drastically compromised.
We are dedicated to continuing to serve the seniors of our community but we need your help.
There are several ways:
- Donate as generously as you can to each Meals on Wheels in Monterey County
- Call Congressman Jimmy Panetta to show your support for these 2 agencies
- Volunteer as a driver either in Monterey or Salinas.
We do not know what the future holds for our programs but we know there will be a major struggle ahead. We’re ready! Are you?
Regina Gage, Executive Director for Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Inc.
Viveca Lohr, Executive Director for Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula