Arlington, VA, September 18, 2019 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander today issued the following statement regarding the passage of legislation that supports the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) – H.R. 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019 – in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor:
Meals on Wheels America applauds the House Committee on Education and Labor for today’s unanimous passage of the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, a critical step in the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization process. We want to specifically commend Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services Chairwoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) for her leadership on this comprehensive legislation and thank the bill’s cosponsors – Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Susie Lee (D-NV), James Comer (D-KY), Susan Wild (D-PA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) – for putting forth a bipartisan effort that serves as a true testament to the value of the OAA.
Since its inception more than five decades ago, the OAA has been the primary federal legislation supporting community-based social and nutrition services for adults age 60 and older, as well as their families and caregivers, and has sustained the infrastructure that enables millions of seniors to live healthy, independent lives with dignity in their own homes and communities. The OAA Nutrition Program in particular – comprised of the Congregate Nutrition Program, Home-Delivered Nutrition Program and Nutrition Services Incentive Program – represents the only federal program specifically designed to meet the unique nutritional and social needs of our nation’s most vulnerable seniors.
With our country’s rapidly rising senior population on pace to reach 118 million by 2060, more and more seniors are in need of OAA supports and services. Each reauthorization provides a new opportunity to improve the OAA in ways that will help it to better address the evolving needs of this growing older adult population. Within the Dignity in Aging Act, we recognize and applaud the efforts undertaken to increase authorized funding levels over the next five years. This increase – along with the creation of the National Research, Demonstration, and Evaluation Center for aging services research and development and a greater recognition of our network’s comprehensive service model that goes well beyond just the nutritious meal to also include companionship and safety and wellness checks – will all help to significantly improve the senior nutrition network’s ability to remain sustainable and meet the increasing demand for services.
Meals on Wheels America celebrates the Committee’s commitment to the OAA and the hard work by members and staff to produce this bipartisan legislation. We look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen H.R. 4334 even further in the days and weeks ahead and to ensure that a strong, bipartisan bill passes the House and the Senate, and is ultimately signed into law by the President. Together, we can protect and promote the health, dignity and independence of those older Americans and their caregivers who depend on OAA programs for years to come.
The legislative fact sheet can be found here; the legislative section-by-section summary can be found here; and the legislative text can be found here.
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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.
Meals on Wheels America