Arlington, VA, March 11, 2019 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander issued the following statement in response to the release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget:
The President sent his Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget to Congress today presenting a roadmap for a “Better America” that claims to put taxpayers first. Yet, the proposed budget as presented would eliminate, or significantly cut, a number of critical funding sources that support the nationwide network of Meals on Wheels programs. Such cuts would put millions of vulnerable seniors in harm’s way, and would, in turn, place unnecessary strain on taxpayers in the form of significant senior medical and long-term care expenses.
Nine million seniors across the country struggle with hunger, and 83% of low-income and food insecure seniors do not receive meals they may benefit from, due in part to insufficient funding. Poor nutrition among older adults often compounds existing health challenges and increases the likelihood of experiencing certain chronic health conditions, placing a significant strain on our country’s healthcare system, economy and taxpayers. In fact, healthcare costs associated with malnutrition in seniors total $51 billion. With the senior population set to nearly double by 2060 and waiting lists for meals already mounting in every state, now is the time to address the pervasive, growing and costly issues of hunger and malnutrition among older Americans.
Instead, the President’s Budget calls for the elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), on which some Meals on Wheels programs rely to fill existing funding gaps and deliver nutritious meals, safety checks and friendly visits to at-risk seniors across the country. The budget also proposes to eliminate the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) that provides monthly nutritious food assistance to low-income seniors, as well as other key federal programs that help older adults to maintain their health and independence. Elimination of, or reductions in, funding for these critical services only serves to worsen the struggle felt by millions of vulnerable seniors and further squeezes already resource-strapped community-based nutrition programs.
Meals on Wheels is a proven public-private partnership that serves as the only federally supported program designed specifically to meet the nutritional and social needs of seniors, and it must be bolstered to keep up with rising demand. As a country, we can either invest a little now in cost-effective programs like Meals on Wheels – helping to keep seniors’ healthcare expenditures to a minimum and saving taxpayers billions of dollars annually – or face a dramatic increase in spending down the road. I implore the President and our leaders in Congress to prioritize our nation’s seniors throughout the budget and appropriations processes.
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.