Bruce Nakashima looks forward to visits from Chris Clark. Clark brings a hot meal and the paper. The gentlemen chat about sports.
"That’s my only contact with people outside of TV or newspaper or seeing the landlord," Nakashima said.
The 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient lives alone with his cat in Santa Monica and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is one of 400 West Los Angeles residents who rely on Meals on Wheels as their main source of food. But the future of the program is uncertain.
President Donald Trump's proposed budget, released Wednesday, eliminates all federal funds — about three billion dollars — for the Community Development Block Grant Program. Government officials say the program has not demonstrated results. The elimination of the program is part of a 13 percent decrease in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Community Development Block Grant Program provides some money for local Meals on Wheels programs. Chris Baca, Meals on Wheels West Executive Director, said the West LA program receives about 3 percent of funds from the block grant program and another 14 percent of funds from other federal sources, which are in jeopardy under the proposed budget. Moreover Baca said the federal grants give the program credibility and make it easier for them to raise money locally.
President Trump’s proposed budget includes a 6 percent increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs which could help people like Nakashima, but other homebound individuals could lose their meal delivery.
The president’s proposed budget is still in the draft stages. Congress is expected to approve a final budget later this spring.
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For now, Nakashima said he’ll enjoy what he can. On the menu for his latest meal: pork, peas, sweet potato and good conversation with Clark, a fellow veteran.