Strong Support for Nutrition, Aging and Caregiver Services Signaled to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
Arlington, VA – June 30, 2021 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander today issued the following statement in response to a Dear Colleague letter urging the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to double funding for the Older Americans Act in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022:
Meals on Wheels America commends the 40 Senators who sent a letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee urging that programs authorized under the Older Americans Act (OAA) receive $4.26 billion in funding in FY 2022 – double the currently enacted funding levels. The letter was led by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has championed similar letters over the past decade and has long been a vocal advocate for the OAA, its mission to help older adults and their families, and the impact it delivers nationwide.
For more than fifty years, the OAA has served as the primary federal legislation supporting community-based social services for adults aged 60 and older, as well as their families and caregivers. Programs authorized under the OAA provide invaluable social and nutrition services – including home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation, family caregiver support and more – that help older adults to maintain healthy, independent lives in their communities, rather than in hospitals or long-term care facilities. Yet, as our country’s aging population continues to grow at a record rate, federal funding for the OAA has failed to keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand for its services.
Having increased OAA funding has proven essential throughout the pandemic, and the enacted emergency relief packages allowed programs to effectively respond to the surging need that existed prior to – and was worsened by – the public health crisis. For example, at the height of the pandemic, senior nutrition programs reported delivering an average of 100% more home-delivered meals than they served before March 2020. Four out of five local programs agreed that their new clients they began serving during the pandemic are here to stay, while at the same time, programs are also facing rising costs and fear they may need to halt services unless additional resources are made available.
We commend this call for increased federal funding for the OAA and again thank the Members of Congress who signed onto this letter for acknowledging the crucial role the OAA plays in comprehensively and cost-effectively meeting the needs of Americans as they age. We are eager to work together with Congress and the Administration throughout the FY 2022 appropriations process to continue building on the strong support for this legislation and urge this doubling of currently enacted appropriations levels, for a total of $4.26 billion.
Read the letter 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.
Meals on Wheels America
Jenny Young, 571-339-1603