Arlington, VA – May 28, 2021 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander issued the following statement in response to the release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Proposal, which highlights the Administration’s priorities for the coming fiscal year:
Meals on Wheels America commends the President and his Administration for making a much needed investment in the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget, which represents the largest level of funding proposed for the program in recent history. This necessary down payment of $1.3 billion recognizes the integral and often life-saving role programs like Meals on Wheels play in delivering critical nutrition, social connection and other supportive services to millions of our senior neighbors every year. Further, it would go a long way in addressing the dual problems of senior hunger and isolation.
The OAA is a true testament to the value of public-private partnerships at all levels – federal, state, community and individual. For nearly 50 years, the proven and effective network of 5,000 senior nutrition programs established through the OAA has helped reduce hunger, promote socialization and improve the health and well-being of individuals 60 years of age and older. Yet, federal funding for this network has consistently fallen behind the demand brought on by our country’s growing senior population and other factors, continually leaving a huge gap between those served and those needing, but not receiving, services. Time and time again, senior nutrition programs have cited a lack of adequate funding as the primary factor impacting their ability to meet the existing need in their communities. This budget acknowledges this longstanding concern and takes a significant step on the path toward fixing it.
Throughout the pandemic, Meals on Wheels programs across the country have had to navigate how to safely provide meals to, visit with and check in on millions of older adults in need of services – in addition to those they were already serving. And they have risen to those challenges, delivering so much more than a meal without interruption – just as they were designed to do. But in the process, these same programs have been impacted by COVID-19 in profound ways from which, for many, it will take years to recover. One-third said they would need to nearly double or more than double their home-delivered meal efforts to address the existing unmet need in their community. Increasing FY 2022 funding for the OAA Nutrition Program would help make it possible for senior nutrition providers to maintain their current heightened levels of service, and it would course correct after decades of under-resourcing to enable them to serve the evolving needs of their communities as our country strives to respond, recover and rebuild from the pandemic.
In the American Rescue Plan released earlier this year, the President voiced a commitment to addressing the growing hunger crisis in our country. We are encouraged to see a stake put in the ground to meet this commitment through boosted funding for the OAA Nutrition Program and other key programs proposed in this Budget. We look forward to working with Congress to build on this proposal and secure the resources needed in the upcoming fiscal year to sufficiently support these programs that serve as a lifeline to millions of older adults, helping them age with independence and dignity in their homes and communities.
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.
Meals on Wheels America
Jenny Young, 571-339-1603