Letter Signed by 25+ Members of Congress Underscores Urgency; Features Quotes from Local Senior Nutrition Programs Nationwide
Arlington, VA, December 1, 2022 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) Executive Director Bob Blancato today shared a joint statement in response to a bicameral Dear Colleague letter led by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1) calling on House and Senate Appropriations Leaders to provide nearly $2 billion in funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023.
As representatives of the nationwide network of senior nutrition programs that rely on federal funding through the Older Americans Act (OAA) to operate, we commend Sens. Gillibrand and Sanders and Rep. Bonamici for their leadership, and the dozens of Members of Congress who cosigned a letter urging House and Senate Appropriations Leaders to prioritize larger and more sustained investments in OAA nutrition services for older adults by including $1.933 billion for these programs in any final FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill.
For more than 50 years, the OAA has been essential to addressing hunger, malnutrition, and advancing the overall health and well-being of millions of older adults. The recent bicameral and bipartisan letter draws attention to the urgency for increased funding and the immediate challenges of local senior nutrition programs and older adults, a population among the greatest impacted by the pandemic and high inflation.
Eight out of 10 local Meals on Wheels programs continue to serve more home-delivered clients than before the pandemic, many of which have growing waiting lists for services. For local programs, the rising demand, coupled with higher food and gas prices, among other factors, have made it difficult to reach all those in need of services, much less to sustain the support required. Current OAA funding levels are failing to keep pace, leaving thousands waiting for help that will never come without increases through this appropriations process.
Again, we thank Sens. Gillibrand and Sanders and Rep. Bonamici for leading this important effort at such a critical time and the Members of Congress who added their signatures to this letter. The OAA funding requested reflects the reality on the ground and nearly universal challenges senior nutrition programs face across the country. As Congress continues to negotiate a FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill, we urge lawmakers to prioritize the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable older adults and to double funding for OAA nutrition programs to a total of $1.933 billion this year.
Read the recent Dear Colleague letter here.
Read Meals on Wheels America and NANASP letters to Appropriations Leaders in the House here, and the Senate here.
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.
Jenny Bertolette Young
Meals on Wheels America
Meredith Ponder Whitmore