Support Needed to Continue Meals on Wheels Funding
DANVERS -- Every year, North Shore Elder Services provides 200,000 hot nutritious meals to elderly residents in the communities of Danvers, Peabody, Salem, Marblehead and Middleton. This vital service is made possible through funding from federal legislation known as the Older Americans Act. In Massachusetts alone, the funding allowed agencies to serve 8.6 million meals to older adults last year. These meals were served at luncheon programs in senior centers, elderly housing, and other community venues where seniors gather, or delivered to older adults in their homes through Meals on Wheels.
The future of this successful program now rest with members of the U.S Congress, who are expected to vote this month on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.
Programs in Massachusetts are particularly interested in retaining the ability to purchase USDA commodity food and receive bonus commodity foods for the nutrition program. The state of Massachusetts is a leader in using commodities to ensure food quality and safety and control meal costs. In 2007, the Older Americans Reauthorization Technical Corrections Act as Public Law 109-116 was introduced by the late U.S Sen. Edward Kennedy and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas). This legislation will be at risk unless it is incorporated into this reauthorization.
According to the data from the Massachusetts Elder Nutrition programs, close to 67 percent of the recipients of the home-delivered meals are age 80 or older and about 75 percent report that the hot lunch is their main meal of the day. Participants also cited improved health as a result of the delivered meals. In fact, more than 75 percent reported eating better, feeling better, or having more energy as a result of the nutrition program. With minimal stigma attached, the program also continues to prove successful in reaching those with the lowest incomes.
With the baby boom population increasing at an unprecedented rate, 2012 is a critical year to guarantee the nutrition and health of older adults across the country. North Shore Elder Services joins with groups such as the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs to emphasize to members of Congress the need to keep the vital community and home-based services provided by the Older Americans Act ongoing through the support of its reauthorization.
The Older Americans Act has enjoyed bipartisan support over its more than 45-year history. It’s critical to the 75,000 older adults who received nutritious meals that there is no disruption in the renewal process.
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North Shore Elder Services