Tarrant County Meals on Wheels leans on local support with budget cuts pending

While possible budget cuts may be putting pressure on some local programs, the community donations and support for Tarrant County’s Meals on Wheels has kept the wheels turning.

Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County’s $6.8 million annual budget receives 48 percent of its funding from government sources and 52 percent from local support.

The preliminary outline for President Trump’s 2018 budget calls for the elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program that funds community development activities, such as affordable housing and anti-poverty programs.

Less than 1 percent of the Tarrant County’s Meals on Wheels government funding comes from the block grant program.

If this funding stops, the Tarrant County organization would lose about $100,000 a year, which equates to about 16,500 meals. The organization currently delivers one million meals per year, so this cut would account for 1 percent of their overall budget.

“Right now nothing has changed and all of our clients continue to receive nutritious meals they rely on each day,” Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County Strategic Marketing and Communications Manager Keith Harrison said. “We work very hard to raise money here within the community.”

Harrison said to collect local financial support, the Tarrant County organization looks to donors, direct mail, advertising, newsletters and many other types of community engagement.

“The people of Tarrant County are extremely generous and were very fortunate in that a lot of the programs around the country don’t have the level of community support that we do in Tarrant County,” Harrison said.

The Tarrant County organization has about 5,000 volunteers who are continuing to deliver meals to almost 4,600 residents.

“The more I got involved with volunteering for this organization, I realized the significant impact that our efforts individually have on people here in Tarrant County,” Harrison said. “I mean these are our friends and neighbors who receive services, so I always want to encourage people to get involved with something that tugs at their heart strings.”

Along with delivering meals, the volunteers engage in friendly visits and get to know the clients.

“I get a good meal every day, and it’s really healthy,” Meals on Wheels client Joyce said. “I got a lot of friends with the volunteers, I’ve met a lot of people.”

Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County started in 1973 as an effort to home-deliver 25 meals per day to an inner-city area of Fort Worth, and now they deliver more than 4,000 meals each day.

“We hear often that it only takes one person to make a change,” Harrison said. “I can tell you from personal experience just through involvement with Meals on Wheels I am making a significant impact on the lives of people right here.”

To learn more about volunteering for Meals on Wheels visit their website.