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Meals on Wheels America Urges Congress to Fund and Reauthorize the Older Americans Act Amid Growing Senior Hunger and Social Isolation

Mar 08, 2024

President and CEO Ellie Hollander Invited by Senators Sanders and Cassidy to Testify Before Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)

Arlington, VA – March 8, 2024 — For more than 50 years, the Older Americans Act (OAA) has supported the network of state, regional and community-based organizations that deliver on the promise to nourish lives and help seniors age with dignity and independence. This week, Meals on Wheels America kicked off efforts on Capitol Hill advocating for this crucial legislation and how it can be improved to better meet the evolving needs of millions of seniors struggling with hunger and social isolation.

Testifying yesterday at “The Older Americans Act: Supporting Efforts to Meet the Needs of Seniors” hearing hosted by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander underscored the significant impact of the OAA and irreplicable work of local programs serving as a direct lifeline to seniors.

With intense federal funding negotiations ongoing, this hearing comes at a crucial time to highlight the growing crises of senior hunger, malnutrition, isolation and loneliness. The OAA sets the gold standard for successful public-private partnerships, garnering an impressive $3-$4 from additional state, local and private sources for every $1 from the OAA. However, current federal funding levels are not keeping up with demand, and millions more seniors could benefit if Meals on Wheels had the resources to reach them.

During her testimony, Hollander said, "We are at a precipice that warrants action and there is no time to waste. Senior lives hang in the balance. That’s because the gap between increasing need and our ability to provide services continues to widen at an unprecedented rate ... Congressional support through this reauthorization is an investment in the seniors of today that will improve health, save lives and reduce costs in the future.”

At a time when 12 million seniors struggle with hunger, one in three feel lonely and a third of Meals on Wheels programs have a waitlist with seniors waiting on average three months for vital meals, Meals on Wheels programs are facing uncertainty and potentially devastating cuts as Congress finalizes federal funding decisions for the year ahead.

The upcoming March 22 deadline for the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill that will determine funding levels for programs like Meals on Wheels for the remainder of FY 2024 coincides with the 52nd anniversary of the OAA Nutrition Program. Across the country this month, Meals on Wheels programs are advancing a nationwide movement to #SaveLunch for America’s seniors, asking everyone to send a message to their Members of Congress urging them to protect and increase funding for lifesaving Meals on Wheels services.

Chairman Sanders said it best: “Anyone who understands the Meals on Wheels program knows it’s not just the actual meals delivered. It’s somebody knocking on the door, saying hello, asking how you’re doing, breaking through the isolation. That’s what Meals on Wheels’ programs do.”

To learn more about how Meals on Wheels opens the door to addressing nutrition, social connection, safety and so much more, visit   

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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. Powered by a trusted volunteer workforce, this network delivers a comprehensive solution that begins with a meal and is proven to enable independence and well-being through the additional benefits of tailored nutrition, social connection, safety and much more. By providing funding, programming, 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