Arlington, VA – February 10, 2020 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander issued the following statement in response to the release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget:
The President sent his Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget to Congress today, highlighting the Administration’s priorities for the coming fiscal year and laying out a vision for “America’s Future.” Yet, this proposed budget moves to eliminate or make substantial cuts to a number of federal agencies and programs that make it possible for Meals on Wheels programs to help millions of vulnerable seniors live healthy and independent lives in their own homes every day. Cuts of any kind to these critical and already under-resourced services will add considerable hurdles to combatting hunger and isolation among older Americans, making it more challenging to keep senior healthcare expenditures down and placing undue financial strain on taxpayers in the future.
Nearly 9.5 million seniors are threatened by hunger nationwide, and our country’s older adult population continues to grow exponentially. In fact, with 12,000 Americans turning 60 every day, we are on track to see this population reach 118 million by 2060 – more than double what it was ten years ago. With such rapid growth, so, too, grows the demand for aging services. If we want to be prepared for this future, now is the time that our nation should be investing in the programs that support at-risk seniors, not undermining them.
The President’s Budget includes spending cuts that would largely ignore the two-year bipartisan budget deal reached with Congress last year to end sequestration, which had allowed for a slight increase in spending for nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, like Meals on Wheels. The budget proposal also calls for the elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) – on which many Meals on Wheels programs rely to help fill funding gaps – and other key programs that assist low-income seniors, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).
Community-based Meals on Wheels programs deliver nutritious meals, safety checks and friendly visits to vulnerable seniors across the country, serving as an early warning system for potential dangers or changes in condition that could prove costly down the road. Removing or reducing services for current and future generations of older Americans would place greater pressure on this already resource-strapped network of community-based senior nutrition programs and service providers.
This budget proposal calls on “each and every Government agency to do more to prepare for the demands of tomorrow.” To that end, I implore the President and our leaders in Congress to “prepare for the demands of tomorrow” by investing in cost-effective programs like Meals on Wheels today.
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.
Meals on Wheels America
Jenny Young, 571-339-1603