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Legislative Viewpoint

The fight for the Older Americans Act services like Meals on Wheels

Congressman Jim McGovernCongressman
Jim McGovern
In the richest nation on Earth, it is unconscionable that hunger among American seniors continues and is actually on the rise. From 2001 to 2013, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger increased by an alarming 45 percent.

Over 46 million Americans in our country are hungry: 16 million are children; 9.6 million are seniors. That’s 15.5 percent of everyone over 60-years-old.

One reason for the rise in hunger among seniors is the economy. Since the recession began in 2007, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 56 percent. But it is not only the very poor who are struggling. Out of those seniors who face the threat of hunger, the majority have incomes above the poverty line.

Congressman McGovern spends a day with Meals on Wheels

Homebound seniors face unique challenges. Unable to travel outside of their homes, they rely on services like Meals on Wheels to provide nourishment. Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the Highland Valley Elder Services March for Meals event.

I began the day packing meals and then accompanied Arthur Mongeon on his meal delivery route. On that day alone, the kitchen I visited at the Salvo House delivered 500 meals to seniors and disabled people in the community. As I spoke to people along the meal delivery route, it struck me how much they value the service that Meals on Wheels provides. Oftentimes, the meal delivered is the main meal of the day, containing one-third of the nutrition recommended per day. For many, this meal is their main source of nutrients.

Funding Meals on Wheels

Many organizations in our communities are stepping up to supplement federal anti-hunger programs. LifePath recently held their 2015 Meals on Wheels Walkathon to raise funds for the program, to help ensure they can say yes to every elder in need. The federal government must continue to be a reliable partner in these efforts.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, which includes the Meals on Wheels program, and Congress is expected to consider a long-term reauthorization bill for these critically important programs. Rest assured that I will fight to adequately fund and strengthen Meals and Wheels and other support programs that our seniors count on. Our seniors deserve nothing less.

Congressman Jim McGovern’s local district office is located at 94 Pleasant Street in Northampton, and can be reached at 413-341-8700. Visit McGovern.House.Gov to learn more.