Money & Business

Meals on Wheels Hits the Brakes Amid Sequestration

By / Jun 10, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

A recent survey by the Meals on Wheels Association of America found that senior nutrition programs across the country are reducing the number of meals they’re delivering due to federal budget cuts.

Sequestration is affecting everything from air travel to scientific research. And now comes the news that senior nutrition is taking a hit.

The real impact of sequester is that our programs don’t have the ability to expand to meet the growing need.

According to a recent survey of its members by the Meals on Wheels Association of America, nearly 70 percent of these programs are reducing the number of meals delivered to older Americans around the country.

The survey also found that 40 percent of programs, which receive federal funding via the Older Americans Act, are reducing the number of days they deliver meals, and one in six programs is either closing or shutting down a congregate site such as a senior center.

One in seven U.S. seniors struggles with hunger, according to MOWAA. “Every day, Meals on Wheels programs provide a lifeline by serving meals to our nation’s most vulnerable, frail, and isolated seniors,” MOWAA President and CEO Ellie Hollander said in a statement. “The real impact of sequester is that our programs don’t have the ability to expand to meet the growing need. We should be investing in these programs to ensure our seniors have the nutritious meals they need to remain healthy and independent.”

MOWAA, which represents about 5,000 senior nutrition programs throughout the country, found that, on average, survey respondents are cutting about 364 meals a week, and more than 70 percent are creating waiting lists or adding seniors to existing waiting lists.

One program in Hyattsville, Maryland, is closing after seeing its funding decrease from $1,200 a quarter to $1,100 a year, according to The Washington Post.

The loss of federal money has led to “one of the most devastating times since Meals on Wheels has existed,’’ Hollander told The Post.

Meals on Wheels started in 1954 in Philadelphia and now has programs in all 50 states that deliver more than 1 million meals a day to seniors either in their homes or at congregate sites, according to MOWAA.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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