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How is Meals on Wheels funded?


January 10, 2019

With the Federal government being partially shut down now for more than 19 days, and our state legislature back in session for two days, it’s a good time to provide an update on how Meals on Wheels is funded. Meals on Wheels in Richland County is made possible through a unique mix of government funding, support from individual donors, corporations, churches and the volunteers who deliver the meals.

The major sources of government funding that help cover the cost of meals for the elderly in need include:

Federal funding for senior nutrition: The federal government provides funding for home-delivered meals through Older Americans Act nutrition programs. These funds can be used to help cover meal costs for low-income seniors. Locally, Older Americans Act funding is used to subsidize the cost of meals for about 14.6% of meal recipients. Although the federal government is currently shut down, funding for senior nutrition programs has already been distributed this fiscal year. Concerns about federal funding are for future fiscal years, and whether this funding will be cut.

Community Long Term Care (CLTC): CLTC is a program administered by the state of South Carolina, which relies on Medicaid funding from the federal government. Locally, the CLTC program subsidizes the cost of meals for about 14.5% of meal recipients, although the price that CLTC pays for a meal has not increased in more than nine years.

State of South Carolina: The State provides funding for home delivered meals through an appropriation to the newly formed Department on Aging. In Richland County, this funding subsidizes the cost of meals for about 16.5% of meal recipients.

Richland County: Through the leadership and support of County Council, Richland County increased its funding for meals for needy seniors last year. Increased sustained funding from the County has made a significant difference in the number of meals that we are able to provide each year.

Meals on Wheels also relies on community support

In Richland County, donations from individuals, corporations, and churches, as well as client contributions from those who can afford it, help ensure meals are available to all who need them. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from individuals and charitable foundations for the day-to-day operation of our programs.
It’s also important to note that while meal delivery is supported by government programs for individuals meeting certain criteria, Meals on Wheels serves people from all backgrounds and income levels.

Wondering how you can help? Here are four easy ways:

Stay informed: Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to receive regular updates. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

Contact your elected officials and let them know that preserving funding for Meals on Wheels is essential to helping seniors age independently. The approximate cost of Meals on Wheels is less than $8 per day when the average annual cost of living in a nursing home in South Carolina is $65,000. If you live in Richland County, find out who represents you here.

Volunteer: Each day, dozens of volunteers are needed to get the meals into recipients’ hands. If you’ve never volunteered before, give it a try! Learn more about volunteering. Without volunteers, we have to pay staff to deliver meals, increasing our costs, which in turn decreases the number of meals we are able to provide.

Donate: Our mission is to help ensure that everyone who needs meals is able to obtain them and the need is always there. Click here to donate.


— By Pam Dukes, Executive Director

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