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(March 21, 2017 - New York, NY) - Citymeals on Wheels is one of the more than 5,000 community-based meals on wheels programs across the United States that serve 2.4 million Americans each year.
In New York City, Citymeals prepares and delivers over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for more than 18,000 of our frail aged neighbors each year. Since our founding in 1981, Citymeals on Wheels has operated in a public-private partnership with the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) which is responsible for home-delivered meals Monday through Friday. Thanks to this partnership, Citymeals has been able to promise from day one that 100% of all public donations are used entirely for meal preparation and delivery.
Announced last week, the President’s budget outline for Fiscal Year 2018 includes cuts which target two sources of federal funding for local meals on wheels programs. The first is the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program, which is used in some states to shore up senior nutrition programs, such as home-delivered meals.
In addition, more cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes funding provided through the Older Americans Act (OAA), have been proposed. Across the country, the OAA funds 35% of local meals on wheels operations, and with HHS slated to lose 18% of its budget the impact on these programs could be dramatic.
Because the federal budget outline lacks details on individual agency spending, it is currently unclear how the proposed cuts will affect most OAA programs, including those operated by DFTA, and how this in turn will impact Citymeals.
Last week’s announcement comes at a time when our nation’s senior population is growing rapidly, the need for home-delivered meals is increasing and local meals on wheels programs are struggling to keep pace.
The effectiveness of meals on wheels programs has been well-proven, most recently by researchers at Brown University. Their findings show that people receiving home-delivered meals report improved health, reduced rates of falls, fewer feelings of isolation and loneliness, and less anxiety about being able to remain in their own homes.
Among New York State seniors who receive home-delivered meals, 92% have said that this service enables them to remain living at home. By keeping seniors out of hospitals and nursing homes, these programs save taxpayers billions in healthcare costs. In fact, the average cost of providing a full year of home-delivered meals is roughly the same as one day in the hospital.
Now more than ever, New Yorkers must join the fight to end elder hunger. Already home to more than 1.4 million people over the age of sixty, New York City’s senior population is expected to grow by 40% by 2040. Currently, one in ten older New Yorkers face hunger.
Government cuts and increased demand, as well as rising food and transportation costs, mean Citymeals must depend on the continued generosity of our donors to guarantee the lifesaving safety net provided by our home-delivered meals.
Citymeals has made a commitment to our frail aged neighbors that they will have a nourishing meal every day and we want to assure these elderly New Yorkers that they will not be abandoned. We urge all those who are concerned about these potential cuts to let their Representatives in Congress know how vital meals on wheels programs are to our homebound elderly neighbors, our families and communities.