Meals on Wheels of Wake County has joined the nationwide #SaveLunch effort to urge Congress to protect and increase critical federal funding sources for Meals on Wheels programs.
Congress is in the midst of its annual debate to determine federal funding levels for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The budget proposal put forth by the president in May includes decreases to the current funding levels for the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program and the elimination of the Social Services, Community Services and Community Development Block Grants.
Eight out of 10 Meals on Wheels programs nationwide rely on some type of federal funding to serve seniors, and cuts of any kind will widen the existing gap between seniors served and those who desperately need this lifeline.
Meals on Wheels of Wake County receives almost 50 percent of its budget from the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program. Every $1,500 in cuts to the program would result in eliminating one homebound client from receiving a daily, nutritious meal for a year.
The OAA is the vital funding foundation for 5,000-plus local Meals on Wheels programs nationwide, like Meals on Wheels of Wake County, enabling them to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and critical safety checks to vulnerable seniors. Meals on Wheels keeps seniors out of nursing homes, prevents unnecessary trips to the emergency room and reduces hospital admissions and re-admissions, saving taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
Decreased federal funding will force senior nutrition programs to cut back even further, while the number of seniors on waiting lists will continue to mount in every state. As is, those programs that rely on OAA funding are already serving 23 million fewer meals today than in 2005.
#SaveLunch is an effort led by Meals on Wheels America, the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. Alongside this network of local programs, Meals on Wheels of Wake County is making a collective appeal to Congress to #SaveLunch for our nation’s seniors during the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process and make sure that no senior is left hungry and isolated.
“Assuring adequate federal funding for social programs like Meals on Wheels is not only vital to the health and well-being of at-risk seniors, but it is essential to the health and vibrancy of our nation. We are already losing ground in keeping pace with an exponentially increasing need. The time to act to save lives and money is now,” says Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America.
Manju Karkare is the President of the Meals on Wheels of Wake County Board of Directors.