Locals Worried About Future of ‘Meals on Wheels’ After President Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts

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SACRAMENTO -- Back in the '70s when lovebirds Rose Lazutin and Ron Tolentino took a picture on a San Francisco beach, she couldn't think of a time when he wouldn't be strong and vibrant.

Since he succumbed to a long illness two weeks ago in the Bay, she can't stop thinking about the things that helped him live as long as he could.

"If it hadn't been for 'Meals on Wheels,' he wouldn't have had the nutrition and the food that he needed. My son was basically helping take care of him, but he works, has a family and so, uh, that was a blessing for him," she said.

Knowing how much 'Meals on Wheels' helped her children's father and sustains some of her neighbors at Carmichael's Arcade Creek Manor, she can't imagine why President Donald Trump would propose a budget that cuts most of its funding nationally.

"It's like the 'Meals on Wheels,' we need that. They need that," Lazutin said.

In Sacramento County, "Meals on Wheels" served almost 724,000 lunches to 7,615 seniors last year.

That was done with a $4 million budget -- 50 percent of which comes from the feds.

That cash is funneled through community development block grants, which function more like a reimbursement program with a three-month lag, and the Older Americans Act, which created a national nutrition program for seniors under President Richard Nixon.

"We have already gotten calls today," said David Morikawa, referring to concerned area seniors.

He's the director for Sacramento County's "Meals of Wheels" program.

With Trump's budget plan just starting to be discussed, Morikawa doesn't have a lot of answers for those worried about missing their meals.

"We're not just serving anybody who wants to have a home-delivered meal. We serve those that are not getting enough nutrition," he said.

As a former nurse, Lazutin's good friend Linda Klein has no doubt about the impact of a stalled "Meals on Wheels."

"Many of them, they're disabled, don't even drive, don't have vehicles to get out to go shopping or the energy to shop," she said.

The most isolated could also miss out on their one daily interaction with another human being.

"We were able to find this person on the ground when we did a home delivery meal," shared Morikawa.

"So this is their letter saying thank you."

Rose Lazutin can shop, cook and rescue herself for now, but all of her relatives live in the Bay Area.

"The day could come that I could need that, and hopefully it will be here. It would be a great loss," she said.