Foodnet Meals on Wheels Shows Results

Meals on Wheels programming has been in the spotlight on various national media platforms after the President’s proposed “Budget Blueprint” to Congress known as the “skinny budget”.  The proposed budget shows cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, which fund various programs, including the Older Americans Act (OAA) programs.  Older Americans Act Funding supports nutrition programs, meals-on-wheels, in-home services, transportation, caregiver support and more. Like other Meals on Wheels programs across the county, Foodnet relies on a portion of this funding.  However, the degree of local impact is still unclear at this time.   We anticipate the release of more details in the coming months.   Meals on Wheels America, Foodnet’s national affiliate association, issued a statement which describes the proposed budget cuts, and potential impact reporting decreases to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elimination of Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP), and Community Service Block Grant (CSBG), and elimination of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).  Meals on Wheels America states that while the proposed budget describes elimination of important sources of funding, it does not “call for elimination of Meals on Wheels as a whole.”

Also making headlines last week, President Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney defended proposed cuts of the Meals on Wheels programming stating the program is “just not showing results.”  Nationally, 2.4 million seniors are served each year.  In New York State 64,460 older adults received registered dietitian (RD) certified home delivered meals, over 14 million meals.  Locally, Foodnet Meals on Wheels serves over 700 daily meals to more than 400 older adults and others in-need throughout Tompkins County.  In 2016, Foodnet provided over 163,000 meals, more than 700 nutrition counseling hours, and over 3,000 nutrition education units to those that might otherwise be forgotten.

While the details regarding the degree of impact are still vague, here is what we do know.  Meals on Wheels programming provides a pathway to food security with a human connection.  According to Meals on Wheels America, 10 million older adults face the threat of hunger, and 50% of community dwelling older adults may be malnourished.  In New York State 46 percent of home delivered meals clients are at high nutrition risk, and approximately 66 percent have four or more chronic conditions.   Foodnet’s services offer more than meal.  We provide nutrition counseling, education, safety checks and friendly visits, as well as social dining through our congregate meal sites.  Locally, approximately 63 percent of Foodnet clients live alone, and more than 70 percent are frail or disabled. For many of our clients, the world has become somewhat small, and family caregivers are stretched beyond their capacity. Foodnet’s services support our caregivers, and ensure that our neighbors live a life without hunger and isolation.

Adequate nutrition is essential for healthy aging and prevention or delay of chronic disease.  The need for nutrition services continues to grow.  By 2050, the senior population is anticipated to nearly double. President Trump’s budget is not final.  There is still time to educate Congress about the important and necessary services that Meals on Wheels Programming provides.  Our community can help provide a voice for our organization by sending letters or calling members of Congress to share about the impact Foodnet makes in Tompkins County.   We also welcome you to engage with Foodnet through volunteerism, gifts, and simply referring our services to someone that would benefit.  Email  or give us a call for more information.