Arlington, VA – August 25, 2020 – Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander today issued the following statement in response to recent letters sent to Congressional leadership urging at least $1.1 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs in the next COVID-19 relief bill:
Meals on Wheels America commends the Members of Congress who added their signatures to two recent bipartisan letters sent to leadership in the House of Representatives and Senate, each calling for a minimum of $1.1 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs in the next COVID-19 relief bill, including $750 million for OAA nutrition services like Meals on Wheels. The House letter was led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), John Katko (R-NY), Susan Wild (D-PA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and signed by 92 additional Representatives, and the Senate letter was led by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and signed by 14 other Senators.
For years, the demand for Meals on Wheels services among a rapidly growing senior population has been surpassing the capacity and resources required to serve all in need. In the face of COVID-19, more and more seniors have been physically isolating at home and requesting services amid public health and safety measures, and Meals on Wheels programs have taken on an estimated hundreds of thousands of additional clients than before the pandemic hit.
Programs’ costs are also increasing as they serve more meals to more seniors, acquire additional safety supplies and personal protective equipment, and make operational changes to adapt to the pandemic environment. Though three quarters of Meals on Wheels America Member programs have received federal COVID-19 response funding in the past few months – which has been instrumental in helping to ramp up their services for a larger group of clients – almost all have seen costs rise (97%) and the overwhelming majority are concerned about their ability to sustain this level of service for much longer without additional emergency relief.
The funds requested in each of these Congressional letters would help remove some of the financial uncertainty for Meals on Wheels programs and fortify their ability to continue working on the front lines to keep high-risk seniors safe and nourished throughout the duration of this pandemic. COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on older adults, and we sincerely thank all of the Members of Congress who have signed on to each of these letters in a strong show of bipartisan support for the senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels that are combating senior hunger and isolation every day. We look forward to working with both Chambers of Congress to secure the necessary relief funding and ensure that no senior is left hungry or alone at this extraordinary time in our country’s history.
Read the House letter here and the Senate 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 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.