The last time I visited my dad before he died, I noticed that there was one thing that he didn’t need for – food.
My father, a chef by trade, was so frail from cancer and AIDS complications, that he couldn’t bite into a yummy bagel, or twirl his pasta with a fork and a spoon. But he could surely drink as much Ensure as he wanted, thanks to a meal delivery program that made sure he had food to sustain him while he lived his last days. Drinking your dinner may sound like torture to some folks, but when you’re poor and you don’t have the means to go out and get your own food, it’s most certainly a blessing.
I am grateful to the people who cared enough for my dad to make sure he had something in his belly while I was in the military. I owe them more than what I could repay for allowing him to hang on long enough to see me before he died.
But with the president’s new proposed spending plan, I fear that many service members will have one more thing to worry about while they’re deployed, and that’s keeping their loved ones fed.
Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced their new spending plan, which reduces federal grant money to the Meals on Wheels program – a program that helps feed elderly, sick, and shut-in Americans.
The program feeds millions, so I would imagine that many of those who benefits from the program are family members of active duty service members.
The program, which delivers meals to individual homes and senior centers, feeds more than 2.4 million Americans 60 and older—more than half a million of them veterans. It delivers about 218 million meals a year, according to a Meals on Wheels fact sheet (PDF). Most recipients live alone, take more than six medications, and rely on these meals for at least half the food they consume.
In the administration’s defense, Meals on Wheels has definitely had its share of trouble from Capitol Hill. Back in 2013, the government sequestration impacted millions of seniors who relied on the program to eat. Eventually the program reached a budget deal, but it seems this administration decided to go ahead and slash the budget this year anyway.
It’s heartbreaking to imagine a veteran, who once broke barriers as a woman military officer, be reduced to hunger or begging for food. Especially when she would have never pictured the same outcome for her troops in her younger days.
It’s troubling to think of an active duty service member coming home from deployment to see his or her grandfather struggle to open a can of soup, when years prior, grandad was the Army medic feeding his brothers and sisters in arms multiple cans of soup with love and compassion.
Why would we want any service members, veteran or retired, to be greeted with that kind of bullshit when they come home from fighting a war? Or multiple wars?
To cut these programs, knowing that many active duty service members themselves are part of the working poor, and would be unable to provide their sick or shut in family members with immediate help for food, especially while they are deployed, is down right heartless.
The fact that this administration is willing to create one more burden for service members on the battlefield is disturbing. I can only pray that ground commanders will have the tools they need to help their troops get through such a troubling issue. It’s a fate that no ground commander would want. Not even for themselves.
Sign this petition to help keep Meals on Wheels funded.