The White House says Meals on Wheels doesn't "show results." Here are 5 ways that's wrong.

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Don't come for Meals on Wheels if you don't have your facts straight.

At a Thursday press briefing, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney defended President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts by saying the grants that help fund Meals on Wheels, among other anti-poverty programs, "were just not showing any results."

"We can't do that anymore," Mulvaney said. "We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good. And great — Meals on Wheels sounds great. Again, that's a state decision to fund that particular portion of it. I can't defend that anymore. We cannot defend that anymore."

But Meals on Wheels, which distributed 219.4 million meals in 2015, actually does show results — as Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics and a health researcher, explained in a fiery Twitter thread Thursday.

Here are the scientifically proven results Carroll linked to on Thursday — and that Mulvaney seemed to completely overlook.

1. Meals on Wheels may reduce the risk of falls.

A 2016 study found that meals delivered daily may reduce the risk of falls among homebound adults. This is crucial because falling is the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults, according to the National Council on Aging. The statistics are frightening: Every 19 minutes, an older person dies as a result of a fall.

Reducing falls would likely save money. The NCOA reports the cost of injuries caused by falls in 2013 was $34 billion, and it's estimated to rise as the U.S. population ages.


2. Meals on Wheels reduces loneliness.

A 2016 study found that homebound older adults who received home delivered meals through Meals on Wheels reported reduced feelings of loneliness. 

The impact was greater the more meals they got. People who received daily meals were more likely to say the meal deliveries made them feel less lonely than the people who only got meals once a week.

3. Meals on Wheels improves older adults' nutrition.

A review of 54 articles from 1994 to 2013 found that nutrition interventions, like Meals on Wheels and other community services, improved nutrition in older adults.

According to the Mayo Clinic, malnutrition can lead to problems like muscle weakness, which, in turn, can cause potentially fatal falls.

4. Just two months of Meals on Wheels improved people's lives in multiple ways.

A 2015 pilot study found that after just two months of participating in Meals on Wheels, seniors showed "statistically significant" improvements across five separate metrics: Nutritional status, dietary intake, well-being, loneliness and food security. 

The study concluded more research was needed, but said programs like Meals on Wheels could be key in helping an aging population stay independent.

5. Meals on Wheels may help people come home from the hospital.

A 2015 study that followed 121 people who had recently been discharged from the hospital found receiving Meals on Wheels deliveries had a "positive effect" on their transitions back home. The Meals on Wheels recipients returned to the hospital at lower rates than would otherwise be expected.

As Carroll pointed out in his Tweet thread on Thursday, all of the studies he linked to as proof of the many positive impacts of Meals on Wheels are from the past few years alone. 

Maybe Mulvaney should dive into this research.

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Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

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