Arlington, VA, December 8, 2017 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander released the following statement following passage of H.J. Res. 123, the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2018:
While the passage of this stopgap spending measure temporarily avoids a far more damaging government shutdown, funding the government in this week-to-week manner is not only inefficient; it is harmful to the many programs and individuals that depend upon federal resources to operate at full capacity.
Congress has gained a two-week extension from this continuing resolution – until December 22 – before federal funding runs out for the current fiscal year. In that time, we call on Congress to recognize its responsibility to address multiple must-pass legislative issues, including developing and negotiating a bipartisan budget agreement that eliminates the threat of sequestration in 2018, and raising the budget caps that continue to squeeze so many discretionary programs – like the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Programs – year after year.
More than 12,000 Americans are turning 60 every day. This rapid growth, coupled with insufficient OAA resources, have driven community-based Meals on Wheels programs to serve about 20 million fewer meals today than in 2005. While waiting lists mount in every state, the number of seniors threatened by hunger will only worsen if current funding levels are not adequately boosted. The longer Meals on Wheels programs operate at these insufficient funding levels, the wider the gap grows between seniors in need and seniors served. Lawmakers are in the position to contribute to a solution that would benefit both their own constituents and our nation as a whole, in terms of reduced healthcare costs and ensuring that seniors can maintain their health and independence. The time to act to save lives and money is now.
We urge Congress to approve a total level of $874.6 million for all OAA Nutrition Programs and maintain existing funding levels for the Social Services, Community Development and Community Services Block Grants in any final FY 2018 funding agreement. Doing so would help to ease the burden of funding uncertainty for Meals on Wheels programs across the country throughout this fiscal year and provide peace of mind for the millions of hungry, isolated seniors who may not know where their next meal is coming from, all while putting us on the path to a positive fiscal future. It is simply irresponsible to leave our nation’s seniors – and the programs that serve them – in limbo any longer.
Jenny Bertolette Young
Meals on Wheels America