Legislation Provides Historic and Necessary Relief to Tackle Senior Hunger and Isolation
Arlington, VA – March 11, 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 following enactment of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act:
Together, as representatives of the nationwide network of senior nutrition programs, we fervently commend the Administration and Congress for including over $1.4 billion in funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) – with $750 million specifically designated for nutrition services – in the American Rescue Plan Act. This aid package provides historic levels of funding to the senior nutrition programs that have remained steadfast on the front lines of pandemic response over the past year. Further, this legislation delivers the resources needed to support widespread aging network vaccination efforts across the country that will help assure those older adults most vulnerable to COVID-19 are better protected.
This week marks one year since the declaration of the global pandemic that turned so much of our world on its end. In the face of this somber anniversary, we look back with gratitude at the emergency funds that have been provided over the past 12 months in previous relief packages – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This substantial federal support has made it possible for senior nutrition providers to rapidly scale to meet the evolving needs of their communities, often taking on new clients they had never anticipated supporting and operating in ways they had never imagined when our country needed it most. We thank our leaders in Congress and the Administration, as well as the staff who have worked around the clock to deliver this necessary relief to 5,000 senior nutrition programs in communities nationwide, because without it, we know that millions more seniors would have been left behind.
While there is a light at the end of the tunnel for our nation and our world, we must not lose sight of the fact that there is still work to be done. Long after vaccination rates are up across all ages and businesses reopen, millions of seniors across this country will remain hungry and alone as a way of everyday life. For them, there will always be a need for the services of the OAA Nutrition Program. Increased federal resources for the OAA are vital to keeping cost-effective community-based programs that support older adults operating effectively and sustainably.
We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration during the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and appropriations process to ensure that local providers have the resources necessary to deliver nutritious meals and critical social connection to older adults nationwide for as long as these services are needed. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that our country is capable of coming together to support those in greatest need. It is our collective ethical, social and economic responsibility to ensure this continues for decades to come.
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