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Food & Hunger

The White House Called Cutting Programs for the Poor 'Compassionate' and the Internet Is Not Happy

Cutting the US-funded Meals on Wheels program, which delivers hot, nutritious food to limited-income elderly people, and a school program that helps low-income children is “compassionate,” according to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Yes — the person who represents US President Donald Trump said it was “compassionate” to cut programs that help America’s poorest people.

During a White House press briefing, Mulvaney was asked to clarify comments he’d made earlier in the day on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” when he said he didn’t think it was fair for people already struggling financially to fund the Meals on Wheels program.

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At the briefing, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked:

“Just to follow-up on that, you were talking about the steel worker in Ohio, coal worker in Pennsylvania, but they may have an elderly mother who depends on the Meals on Wheels program or who may have kids in Head Start. Yesterday, or the day before, you described this as a hard-power budget. Is it also a hard-hearted budget?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Mulvaney said. “I think it’s probably one of the most compassionate things we can do.”

“To cut programs that help the elderly and kids?” Acosta followed.

“You’re only focusing on half of the equation, right? You’re focusing on the recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place,” Mulvaney explained. “And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore,' single mother of two in Detroit … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function."

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Studies show otherwise. A 2013 series of studies by the National Institute of Health found “home-delivered meal programs to significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants. Other beneficial outcomes include increased socialization opportunities, improvement in dietary adherence, and higher quality of life.”

Similarly, other studies defend the effectiveness of after-school study programs that are also on the chopping block, along with the student lunch program.

Reaction on Twitter to the comments was, of course, swift.