Arlington, VA, November 6, 2018 – Following the release of the Client Outcome Study: Part II by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) – the federal agency overseeing the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) Executive Director Bob Blancato released this joint statement:
We commend the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and Mathematica Policy Research for engaging in a multi-phased research initiative on the Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III-C Nutrition Services Program. The most recent report provides critical insight about congregate and home-delivered nutrition programs, on a national scale, and acts as a springboard to further explore and expand upon a growing body of evidence-based research demonstrating the need for and impact of these vital nutrition services.
Underscored in this study is the significant vulnerability of the seniors served by the more than 5,000 local nutrition services programs in communities large and small across the country. This is especially true for home-delivered meal participants who were older, had less income, were more likely to be in poor health, and were more likely to have difficulty walking or climbing stairs than congregate meal participants. Some other important findings from the study designed to measure the effect of these programs on participants’ health care utilization include:
- Congregate meal participants were more able to remain living in their home and 2.3 percentage points less likely to be admitted into a nursing care facility when compared to a group of similarly matched individuals not participating in a congregate meal program.
- For lower-income congregate meal participants, the rate of nursing home admissions was 8.5 percentage points lower than the rate for nonparticipants.
For home-delivered meals, the findings were less intuitive, which may be a result of several factors including potential differences in underlying characteristics of participants and nonparticipants, such as the degree to which nonparticipant individuals were truly homebound. The study further explains, “home-delivered meal participants are more likely than both congregate meal participants and the general public to be over age 85, rate their health as fair or poor, and to have difficulties with 3 or more activities of daily living. …The complexity that surrounds chronic disease management and health care utilization are influenced by a wide range of factors, not just home-delivered meal services.”
As concluded in Client Outcome Study: Part I, the OAA Nutrition Program is successfully meeting the statutory purposes for which it was designed – to reduce hunger and food insecurity, promote socialization, and promote the health and well-being of seniors 60 years of age or older by assisting them with access to nutrition and other disease prevention and health promotion services. It is worth noting that the OAA Nutrition Program is the only federally supported program with this critical and unique mandate.
At this time in our nation’s history – when 9 million seniors struggle with hunger and more than 16 million seniors live alone – we must look to this program as a solution not only for the health of our seniors, but our communities and our nation, as a whole. Our two organizations look forward to continuing collective efforts to lift up the OAA Nutrition Program and showcase the lifeline it provides to more than 2.4 million of our nations’ most vulnerable seniors by delivering nutritious meals, safety and wellness checks and socialization. We continue to urge our leaders in Congress and the Administration, as well as corporations, foundations and the public to invest further in this proven and vital community-based network.
For more information, download the full report.
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 isolation and hunger. 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. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, 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 Whitmire