The President sent his full Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget to Congress recently, which makes investments in defense programs largely at the expense of non-defense discretionary (NDD) and other anti-hunger and poverty programs that serve our nation’s most vulnerable.
This Budget calls for funding cuts that would widen the already existing gap between seniors receiving nutritious meals and those who desperately need this lifeline. This includes the elimination of the Community Services, Community Development and Social Services Block Grants, upon which some Meals on Wheels America programs rely to deliver nutritious meals to at-risk seniors, either to one’s home or in group settings.
The primary source of federal Meals on Wheels funding – the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program – would receive a $3 million decrease over current FY 2017 levels that were approved by Congress and signed into law by the President earlier this month. This is taking place at a time when these nutrition programs are already serving 23 million fewer meals than in 2005. While waiting lists mount in every state, the number of seniors threatened by hunger will only increase if current funding levels are not adequately boosted. This would in turn cause a far greater taxpayer burden through costly Medicare and Medicaid expenses.
Cuts to funding sources on which Meals on Wheels programs rely – coupled with the significant reductions proposed to SNAP, Medicaid, and other safety net programs for low-income Americans and people with disabilities – would exacerbate the widespread suffering already felt by millions of vulnerable seniors and put greater pressure on an already strained senior support infrastructure.
On behalf of 2.4 million seniors served each year by the national Meals on Wheels network and the millions more who Meals on Wheels America are not yet reaching, they are counting on Congress to address the growing problem of senior hunger in America and to provide adequate funding to close the gap between those in need and those on waiting lists.
It is short-sighted to cut funding for these vital programs because together they are part of the economic solution to our fiscal challenges. Meals on Wheels America looks forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion, as well as with our partners and supporters nationwide, to ensure that no senior in America is left isolated or hungry.
To learn more about taking action, volunteering or donating to Meals on Wheels, please visit their website.