Month-Long Effort Seeks to Bolster the Proven Public-Private Partnership for the Next 50 Years
ARLINGTON, Va. – March 1, 2022 – Meals on Wheels America – the national leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation across the U.S. – today kicks off its month-long March for Meals campaign honoring the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program, the federal legislation that provides funding for nutrition services for seniors and helps support programs like Meals on Wheels.
This annual celebration comes at a time when eight out of ten local Meals on Wheels programs are still serving more home-delivered meals than they were prior to the pandemic, and operational and food costs are soaring due to inflation. The network expects the demand is here to stay as the virus’s impact on older adults goes beyond a higher risk for serious infection: it also includes limited access to care leading to a decline in overall health and wellbeing, as well as considerable social and economic hardships. All of which leaves an already vulnerable population even more in need of the safety net that Meals on Wheels delivers.
Each year, the March for Meals celebration commemorates the historic day in March of 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. This legislation supported the rapid growth of the nationwide network of senior nutrition programs – commonly referred to as Meals on Wheels – that collectively served more than 223 million meals to over 2.4 million seniors prior to the pandemic.
“The Older Americans Act Nutrition Program is the only federally supported program designed to address both senior hunger and isolation,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Despite decades of proven success and bipartisan support, however, funding for this public-private partnership has failed to keep pace with the burgeoning need for its services. With increased demand due to the pandemic atop the rapid increase in our country’s senior population, now is the time to support Meals on Wheels – through volunteering, donating and speaking out – to ensure we are able to deliver for another 50 years.”
Throughout the month of March, the Meals on Wheels network is joining forces for the awareness campaign to garner the support needed to ensure these critical programs can continue to address food insecurity and malnutrition, combat social isolation, enable independence, and improve health for years to come. Many programs will also invite local, state and federal officials, local celebrities and other prominent community figures to safely deliver meals, speak out for seniors and raise awareness for the power of their work during Community Champions Week March 21-25.
In addition to these local celebrations, Meals on Wheels America will host and join other national partners to amplify awareness efforts throughout the month of March. Activities include participation in a Twitter chat hosted by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) on March 10, co-hosting a Live Town Hall with the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) on Meals on Wheels America’s Facebook page on March 22, participation in the Administration for Community Living’s Virtual Celebration on March 31, and more.
To learn more and get involved, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/marchformeals.