Lehigh Valley

Proposed federal budget could hurt programs for needy

SOUTH WHITEHALL, Pa. - One of the proposed budget cuts could have the ax falling pretty hard here in the Lehigh Valley.

Community Block grants pay for a number of local programs, including Meals on Wheels, and one man says any cut-back will hurt.

Kim Rhoades spent 25 years cooking professionally, but medical problems have limited him to only cooking small meals.

"I'm only 60 years old," added Rhoades. "I'm a little too young for a nursing home yet."

Rhoades lives in South Whitehall and relies on the Meals on Wheels program for his other food, a program that could lose funding if the federal Community Development Block Grant is cut as proposed by President Donald Trump.

It means $20,000 lost for the Lehigh County Meals on Wheels program.

"We leverage that government money, combine it with our client fees which are based on a client fee scale, overhead cost that we provide, and volunteers which don't cost us anything but if we had to pay for them would cost more money," said Michele Grasso, Development Director for Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County."

The Community Development Block Grant program started in the 1970's.

It funds not only Meals on Wheels, but also other programs like the low income home energy assistance program, or LIHEAP for short.

Mike Mulvaney, Trump's budget director, says since that time $150 billion has been spent.

"We're not going to spend it on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we've made to people," said Mulvaney.

"How can you take care of America if you don't take care of your Americans who are in need," asked Rhoades when asked about the budget.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey released a statement saying, "I look forward to carefully examining each of the proposed reductions in this budget proposal."

Kim Rhoades says he has a different way for lawmakers to examine the proposed cuts.

"I'd tell them get off their fanny and go out to talk to the people who are actually getting the service," added Rhoades.


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