To the Editor,
Thank you to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch who last month led the submission of a request to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairs and ranking members to double funding—$1.933 billion—for the Older Americans Act (OAA) nutrition programs as part of the FY23 omnibus spending package now before Congress. We need this spending package to pass.
In a letter to the appropriations leaders, Sanders, Welch, and 24 more members of Congress quoted Sarah Lipton, director of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, “Squeezed by 70% increased need, the Meals on Wheels program in the capital city of Vermont is facing a financial deficit of 78% because of the static level of OAA funding. We’ve had to start a waitlist, putting folks who deserve vital nutrition in limbo. Simply put, we receive $3.80 for each meal we serve but our cost is actually $17 per meal, which we are struggling to finance.”
Earlier this fall, I wrote that senior centers and meal sites in southeastern Vermont are faced with a similar financial crisis. This funding shortfall not only jeopardizes meal recipients, but also programs at some of the upper valley’s senior centers. The senior centers, meal sites, and Senior Solutions are working diligently to make up the meal funding shortfall for this fiscal year. But without significant increases from Washington and Montpelier, these funding gaps will force reductions in services, such as in Montpelier, as the cost of food and services increase along with the need among older Vermonters.
Here at the state level, we are also seeking additional funding for meals for older Vermonters. During the legislative session, we will introduce a bill to add more state funding to the meal programs.
Your voice is needed. Please reach out to Sen. Sanders and Rep. Welch to support their call for increased Older Americans Act funding. And speak to your Vermont legislators about how they too can support critically needed funding increases for meal programs throughout Vermont.
Executive Director Senior Solutions,