WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the holidays right around the corner, many families will be gathering around the dining table to celebrate the holidays. But for millions of older Americans, they don’t have that luxury. Instead, they are dealing with issues like food insecurity. A US Senator is looking to beef up existing federal funds to help organizations, state and community programs to provide meals to seniors.
According to a 2021 report from the organization Feeding America, out of 78 million people aged 60 and over, about 5.5 million are food insecure. In that report, six percent of seniors in Michigan are considered food insecure. It’s not the highest percentage compared to other states but it’s an issue New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) wants to address.
The Senator is calling for congress to authorize $1.2-billion dollars for the Older Americans Act Title III-C Nutrition Program. It’s a federal program that helps state and community programs and organizations like Meals on Wheels, reduce hunger for millions of seniors.
We spoke with Meals on Wheels America. They are an organization that helps thousands of community-based programs across the country on addressing senior hunger and isolation. They said this kind of funding is critical for their organization by helping seniors stay independent and healthy. They add it also helps taxpayers by reducing early nursing home placements and reducing hospitalizations.
“There are one in three programs across the country, one in three Meals on Wheels programs that currently have a waiting list with a senior waiting on average about three months for services and so this funding, this federal funding is incredibly critical to meeting the growing need, the existing need,” said Erika Debrick Kelly, the Meals on Wheels America Chief Government and External Affairs Officer.
“Our nation’s older adults have already spent a lifetime working hard by raising kids and contributing to our overall economy,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “The least we can do for them is to help them stay healthy, happy and independent as they age.”
Meals on Wheels America describes their program as a lifeline to seniors who need it the most. Gillibrand said by investing in these kind of services, it supports the right of all people to live independently and age with dignity regardless of income or location.
US Virgin Islands Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D- VI) also signed a letter from Gillibrand advocating for $1.2 billion dollars for the Older Americans Act services.