The Senior Hunger Crisis is Real!
8.8 million of America's seniors — or nearly 1 in 6 — may not know where their next meal is coming from. Programs like Meals on Wheels are critical to solving this national crisis. The nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks delivered each day are often all it takes to enable our seniors to live independently in their own homes. And, when they do, we all save billions of tax dollars in avoided hospital, health care and nursing home costs. Investing in Meals on Wheels is a win-win.
For those seniors who are struggling with hunger, it often means choosing between paying for medications or eating, or paying the electric bill or eating. These are trade-offs that no one should have to make, especially our most vulnerable seniors.
For both Meals on Wheels and congregate meal recipients, an overwhelming majority need help bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, and managing their medications. On top of these sad realities, many of the basic necessities of daily life that we take for granted every day, such as interacting with others and having access to nutritious food, are simply not options without Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs.
The Older Americans Act has been the primary piece of federal legislation supporting social and nutrition services to Americans age 60 and over since 1965. OAA programs are vital for seniors who are at significant risk of hunger and of losing their ability to live independently.
Here are some hard core facts about seniors in Missouri.
190,989 seniors in Missouri are struggling with hunger.
103,756 (54%) of them are receiving our help.
That leaves 87,233 still in need.
It would't take that much to fix.
We can provide nutritious meals for a Missouri senior for a full year for less than $1,479.
The federal government's contribution covers ONLY 21% of that cost.
Programs RELY on contributions from state, local, private, and other resources to cover the rest.
The more we invest, the more we save.
For every dollar we invest in Meals on Wheels we can save up to $50 in Medicaid spending.
If we commit to serving just one quarter of Missouri's hungry seniors, $32.3 million we invest can be offset 50 times by 1.63 billion we save.
The Demographic swing to an aging population is already in motion. Baby boomers are turning 60 at a rate of 12,000 a day. By the year 2030 the senior population will double to over 70 million. If one and seven seniors is struggling today with hunger, it's overwhelming to imagine 10 million struggiling with hunger in a mere 17 years. Funding levels have not kept pace with an 18% decrease from 1992 to 2012. At the same time the popluation of over 60 has increased 34%.
You are going to need the Meals on Wheels program eventually. Sequester has added insult to injury. Exacerbating an already horrific situation compounded by year over year of declones in funding in both federal and state levels, increase in food costs, and gas prices.
Steps that senior centers and Meals on Wheels programs are taking to keep their programs alive are things like:
Cutting the numbers of meals served
Having to establish a waiting list
Eliminating staff postions
Reducing the number of days that meals are served
We cannot imagine how we can allow these seniors in need who are our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, neighbors, and veterans to bear the brunt of our inablility to work in a nonpartisan fashion to prop up our programs.