Arlington, VA, April 14, 2016 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander today issued the following statement in response to the introduction of a bipartisan bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the standard charitable mileage rate for delivery of meals to elderly, disabled, frail and at risk individuals.
I commend Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) on authoring and introducing the DELIVER Act – Delivering Elderly Lunches and Increasing Volunteer Engagement and Reimbursements – designed to support the dedicated volunteers who are delivering the vital nutrition, social connection and safety checks to America’s most vulnerable citizens. Having delivered Meals on Wheels many times, both congressmen have experienced firsthand the invaluable role volunteers play in keeping seniors healthier and more independent at home, avoiding more costly healthcare alternatives.
This bipartisan legislation seeks to bring equity and fairness to the millions of volunteers who day-in and day-out help care for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. In most cases, Meals on Wheels volunteers use their personal vehicles to reach homebound seniors and individuals with disabilities anywhere from two miles away in an urban area to over 150 miles away in rural parts of the country. The expenses incurred do not come close to the current mileage reimbursement rate of 14 cents per mile, which has remained unchanged for nearly two decades. In contrast, the standard business rate is currently 54 cents per mile.
The costs associated with delivering meals often forces volunteers to either cut back on the number of days they deliver meals or suspend their volunteer service completely, putting many frail, disabled and isolated seniors at risk of losing their lifeline. At a time when both the need and demand for nutrition services are already substantial and will continue to grow exponentially, it is critical that we retain current and recruit additional volunteers to deliver the nourishment and social contact that is so desperately needed.
Meals on Wheels America urges Members of Congress to cosponsor this legislation that would help achieve fair and consistent treatment of volunteers under the tax code. We look forward to working in a bipartisan manner with both the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and the leadership to pass this sensible reform, which further recognizes and supports incredible public-private partnerships like Meals on Wheels.
Read the text of the DELIVER Act (H.R. 4942) here.
Meals on Wheels America