LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Arkansas ranks last in the country for senior hunger, and many people fear that President Trump’s budget plan would make it even worse.
The president’s budget proposal would get rid of about a third of the funding for Meals on Wheels programs across the country.
“He’s trying to be a president to the people, and he’s giving things back to the people. This, he’s taking something away,” said Jimmy Kendrick. “And I don’t think that’s a step that he will want to take.”
Kendrick and his wife have used the Meals on Wheels service from CareLink for the last three years.
“And they came out to evaluate us for some of those other activities, and they noticed that neither one of us drove anymore,” Kendrick recalled. “And we have transportation, but can’t use it. And we have to have someone do the shopping of whatever we do, because we can’t go purchase the things that we need.”
Health issues keep the Kendricks inside their North Little Rock home most of the time.
“I can buy meals,” he explained, “but I can’t go get them, and all.”
CareLink serves approximately 15,000 people each year in Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, Lonoke, Prairie, and Monroe counties. It delivers roughly 1,200 meals each day through the Meals on Wheels program.
“Meals on Wheels is something that is very vital for so many people,” Kendrick said. “And I don’t think you could look and find another program that could replace it.”
Arkansas relies on services like Meals on Wheels as much as any other state. According to a recent study, 1 in 4 Arkansas seniors faces the threat of hunger, the most in the U.S. Kendrick thinks taking the help away from some clients would be devastating.
Clients would, “just have to get by the best you could,” he stated, “which, there’d be times you wouldn’t be able to have the meal that you would need.”
Five volunteers bring the Kendricks their food, each showing up once a week. Beyond a warm meal, they bring friendship to the Kendricks’ lives.
“They’re just part of the family,” Jimmy Kendrick said. “You get that way.”
Kendrick also feels a unique connection to CareLink. As a young man, he worked for his father in construction, helping build the building that CareLink now occupies. He struggles to guess what President Trump might believe is more important than providing food and compassion to seniors who are unable to feed themselves.
“It’s just a godsend,” he said. “That’s the way God works.”
A spokesperson told THV11 that CareLink does not rely on federal funding to the extent that some of the smaller providers do, but the staff is still worried about the impact that a funding cut would have.