FY 2022 funding legislation ignores increases needed to support nutrition services as demand still surges at two-year mark of pandemic
Arlington, VA – March 11, 2022 – 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 following the passage of H.R. 2471, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, a $1.5 trillion spending bill to fund federal programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022:
Two years have now passed since the declaration of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As representatives of the nationwide network of senior nutrition programs, both congregate and home-delivered, we have seen the need for these programs’ services surge throughout the entirety of the pandemic and continue to do so today. Emergency funding Congress previously delivered to respond to this crisis has been critical to help ramp up service delivery in the short term. However, the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, ignores the fact that the demand for nourishing meals remains higher than before, that demographic shifts in the population will continue to increase that need and that the costs to deliver services continue to soar.
This legislation includes a $15 million increase – or only 1.5 percent – in funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program, as well as level-funding or minimal increases to other essential OAA and nutrition programs. This small increase veers significantly off course from earlier proposals from lawmakers and the Administration alike, and in no way reflects the reality on the ground for our programs.
Increased operation and food costs – compounded now by rising gas prices – have direct consequences on budgets and the number of meals and individuals that programs are able to serve. Eight out of ten local Meals on Wheels programs are still providing more home-delivered meals than they were prior to the pandemic, and nearly half say they would not be able to support their current client base without further infusions of funding.
To continue serving the older adults our networks are reaching today, avoid a services cliff and be in a position to meet the needs of a growing number of seniors in the future, we urge a doubling of funding for the OAA Nutrition Program in FY 2023. We are nearing an inflection point as a country in our efforts to curb senior hunger and isolation, and if we do not invest further in this proven program now, it is our nation’s older adults who will pay the price.
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