Arlington, VA, May 3, 2019 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs Executive Director Bob Blancato today issued the following statement in response to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) Appropriations Subcommittee passing an increase in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program:
Fittingly marking the start of Older Americans Month – a month in which we honor the contributions of older adults and raise awareness about the needs of our country’s aging population – the House Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations Subcommittee passed a historic $93 million increase in funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program in FY 2020. As leaders of the national network of 5,000 local, community-based senior nutrition programs across the country and the millions of seniors they serve each year, we commend Chairwoman DeLauro for her leadership and Members of the Subcommittee who supported this critical and necessary funding increase.
The OAA Nutrition Program – which provides congregate and home-delivered meals for 2.4 million seniors across the country each year – plays a fundamental role in addressing the prevalent issues of senior hunger and isolation. Yet, federal funding for this vital program consistently fails to keep pace with unmet need for nutrition and social services, rising costs of inflation, and the rapidly growing 60+ population – set to nearly double by 2060.
Federal funding through the OAA is essential to keeping proven and cost-effective programs that support seniors operating in our communities. This proposed increase in funding for which we have been advocating would enable the OAA Nutrition Program to reach more of our nation’s most vulnerable and frail seniors, preventing unnecessary hospital emergency department visits, admissions and readmissions and other costly healthcare expenditures.
As this legislation advances through the appropriations process, we look forward to building on the longstanding bipartisan, bicameral support for the OAA to finalize this $93 million increase, bringing total FY 2020 funding levels for congregate and home-delivered meals to $1 billion. We will also continue to call on Congress to eliminate the threat of automatic across-the-board funding cuts from returning and to raise the budget caps. Doing so would advance efforts to ensure that this much-needed funding increase can come to fruition and benefit our seniors, our communities and our nation, as a whole.
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.
Founded in 1977, the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) is proud to be a leading organization advocating for community-based senior nutrition programs and staff. Our member programs represent a wide range of essential services providers who support the nutrition, health and life quality of seniors. With over 1,100 members from across the United States, we are national advocates for senior health and wellbeing who strengthen the policies and programs that nourish seniors. We accomplish this mission through a collective national voice and through local community action. For more information, go to nanasp.org.
Meals on Wheels America
Meredith Ponder Whitmire