Arlington, VA – February 8, 2021 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) Executive Director Bob Blancato shared a joint statement in response to COVID-19 relief legislative text released today from the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee:
As representatives of the nationwide network of home-delivered and congregate nutrition programs, we enthusiastically commend the inclusion of over $1.4 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs – with $750 million specifically designated for senior nutrition services – by the House Education and Labor Committee in its portion of the FY21 budget reconciliation bill released today.
This emergency support is sorely needed by the community-based senior nutrition providers, especially Meals on Wheels, that are stretched beyond capacity to serve vastly higher numbers of older Americans in need of meals and critical social connection. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs were serving more than 221 million meals and 2.4 million seniors annually. Now, close to a year into the pandemic response, many providers report that they continue to serve double or even triple the number of older adults they had served prior. Our organizations have advocated for this funding, which is crucial to helping the aging network meet the needs of older Americans during the ongoing health and economic crises – because the need for its services has not let up.
We are also pleased that this proposed relief package includes $480 million for supportive services for older adults, another key component of the aging network’s response before and during the pandemic, and mirrors our call for $200 million in emergency funding for specific vaccine-related support. Supportive services – such as transportation, case management, and information and referral lines – are already being leveraged to help our nation’s seniors get vaccinated. Senior centers and Meals on Wheels programs around the country have already begun to host vaccination clinics and provide mobile vaccinations to reach the most vulnerable older adults, including those who are homebound. It is working because of the long-established trust these local providers have within the community. This emergency funding will help enable vaccine-related services, coordination and outreach among this at-risk population to continue.
The need is as urgent as ever, and we are grateful for this proposed funding for our programs serving on the frontlines of the pandemic response. These effective and efficient on-the-ground providers have been working relentlessly to keep older adults in communities nationwide safe and healthy throughout COVID-19 and are positioned to continue to do so with this funding to support them. Again, we thank the Education and Labor Committee for including vital emergency funding for OAA programs in their budget reconciliation proposal, and we look forward to working with the House and Senate to ensure that these provisions are included in any COVID-19 relief package that moves forward and are ultimately signed into law.
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 hunger and isolation. 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. Through funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy, 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