MEALS ON WHEELS AMERICA AND NANASP URGE SWIFT ACTION TO SUPPORT SENIOR NUTRITION PROGRAMS AND ADDRESS RISING COSTS TO PROVIDE SERVICES
Arlington, VA – July 28, 2020 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) Executive Director Bob Blancato released a joint statement in response to multiple COVID-19 relief proposals being negotiated on Capitol Hill:
Together, on behalf of the nationwide network of congregate and home-delivered senior nutrition programs, we call on Congress to take swift action to continue to increase emergency supplemental funding and support for federal programs that provide critical nutrition assistance to so many older Americans facing hunger in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, including the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Even before the dual public health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19, nearly 9.7 million seniors were threatened by hunger. Now, a recent Brookings Institution survey showed that more than one in five adult households is food insecure – more than twice as many as before the pandemic. In light of COVID-19, and with heightened health and safety measures in place, senior nutrition programs across the country are experiencing an unprecedented and growing surge in requests for home-delivered meals from newly homebound older adults who may have never before needed such assistance. Programs are working around the clock to meet this increased demand, pushing their own operating costs higher and higher.
While the majority of senior nutrition programs have received federal funding through the earlier bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCR) and/or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Acts, a lack of sustained federal support for nutrition will impede programs’ abilities to respond as needed moving forward, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding the duration and scale of the pandemic and its aftermath. Adequate funding is essential to helping vulnerable older adults remain safely at home and out of emergency departments, hospitals and nursing homes, which would put themselves and the healthcare system at further risk. We urge Congress to provide a minimum of an additional $1.1 billion in funding for OAA programs – including $750 million designated for nutrition services – and expand SNAP by increasing the maximum monthly benefit by 15% and the minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30.
The COVID-19 relief packages currently proposed fall substantially short of providing sufficient emergency funding and support for nutrition programs working to keep older adults healthy and fed throughout this pandemic, as it continues to directly impact millions of seniors in need unabated. Action must be taken quickly to secure more funding and ensure that our country does not turn its back on our most vulnerable in this time of exceptional need.
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
Jenny Young, 571-339-1603
Meredith Ponder Whitmire, 202-789-0470