Mobile Meals Inc. — the group that delivers about 2,600 meals and supplements daily to Northeast Ohioans — is fighting back against President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut funding for meal delivery programs nationwide.
Mark Frisone, executive director of Family & Community Services, said the proposed federal funding cuts make up the majority of its Mobile Meals funding. Mobile Meals merged last year with the Family & Community Services, one of the largest social services agencies in Northeast Ohio.
“I see no benefit of taking food out of the mouths of grandmas and grandpas across the country,” Frisone said on Friday.
His organization is providing sample letters clients can send to elected representatives in Congress urging them to reconsider the funding meal delivery.
Some may not understand that delivering food is only part of Mobile Meals’s mission. Almost as important is social contact for homebound seniors who often don’t have anyone else, Frisone said.
“Unfortunately, we find seniors who have fallen … or who have expired and no one would ever know unless meals are delivered,” Frisone said.
Frisone said there’s usually a waiting list of about 50 people in Summit County to get Mobile Meals services. Mobile Meals serves meals in Summit, Cuyahoga and Portage counties. If the funding disappears, Frisone said Mobile Meals will survive through support from communities it serves.
“We won’t completely disappear,” he said, “but we’ll be gutted and be a much different animal than we are today.”
Mobile Meals in recent weeks relocated about six miles north to 1357 Home Ave. near Chapel Hill. Mobile Meals also has a new director, Dana Downing, who had previously worked as a finance executive for the group. He replaces Blake Babcock, who is now a development director with Family and Community Services, Inc.
The nonprofit also is launching a new program to offer free meals for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people struggling with health, financial and housing challenges. Mobile Meals is funding the meal delivery and food assistance service with a grant from the Gay Community Endowment Fund. Summit County residents who identify as a member of the LGBT community are eligible.
The program will allow about 20 people to receive meals. Hot meals may be delivered to the doorstep Monday through Friday, or a recipient can opt to receive several frozen meals once per week.
Mobile Meals is working with the Community AIDS Network and Akron Pride Initiative (CANAPI), a local LGBT advocacy group, to find eligible county residents. To qualify, residents must have low income. Those interested are asked to call CANAPI at 330-252-1559 or email the group at [email protected] to schedule a referral appointment.
Mobile Meals was founded in 1971 by Mary Gordon at a picnic of the Summit County Medical Auxiliary. Her husband was a physician who worried about sending stroke patients home from a hospital when they could neither shop or prepare their own meals.