Arlington, VA, March 26, 2018 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander today issued the following statement in response to a recent Dear Colleague letter urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies to increase funding for Older Americans Act programs – like Meals on Wheels – in Fiscal Year 2019:
Meals on Wheels America applauds the more than 100 Members of Congress who sent a bipartisan letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee urging that programs authorized under Title III of the Older Americans Act (OAA) be prioritized during the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process. The letter was led by U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ), Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), all of whom have delivered Meals on Wheels and pushed for legislation supporting OAA programs and the millions of seniors served throughout their time in office.
For more than 50 years, the OAA has been the primary piece of federal legislation supporting critical services for seniors aged 60 and older, as well as their caregivers. The OAA Nutrition Program – which provides home-delivered and congregate meals for 2.4 million seniors each year – is the only federal program specifically designed to meet the nutritional and social needs of our nation’s most at-risk seniors and serves as a frontline defense to reduce hunger, isolation and healthcare costs.
However, federal funding has been – and remains to be – insufficient to meet the growing unmet need among our nation’s rapidly aging population that is increasingly struggling with hunger and malnutrition. Today, Meals on Wheels programs are serving 19 million fewer meals than they were able to in 2005, and one in four programs report having a waiting list, in part because OAA funding has not kept pace with rising demand for services.
Meals on Wheels America again thanks the Members of Congress who added their signature to this letter to call for further investment in OAA Nutrition Programs early in the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process, and is appreciative that Congress recognizes the economic and social value these programs deliver to vulnerable seniors each day. We are encouraged by this show of support, and by the OAA funding increases signed into law for Fiscal Year 2018 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.
We now look forward to working with Congress throughout the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process to continue building on the bipartisan and bicameral support for OAA Nutrition Programs – Congregate, Home-Delivered and the Nutrition Services Incentive Program – and ultimately provide increased funding to help eliminate waiting lists and ensure more seniors receive the proper nutrition needed to remain healthier, safer and more independent at home.
Read the letter here.
About Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.
Jenny Bertolette Young
Meals on Wheels America