PLATTSBURGH — Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Special Committee on Aging, held a video press conference to call for $1.93 billion in FY23 funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) nutritional programs.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the OAA Nutrition Program, which has supported nutrition services for older adults across the country in a variety of ways since 1972, including within senior centers, home deliveries, and with funding for local agencies, according to a press release.
“As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, I am committed to fighting food insecurity and ensuring that our older adults have access to healthy and affordable meals,” Gillibrand said.
“Bolstering the Older Americans Act nutritional programs is a vital step to addressing the unique barriers older Americans face in accessing food. I’m proud to lead the call for nearly $2 billion in funding for the OAA so that everyone has food on the table during the holiday season and beyond.”
About 5.2 million older adults in the United States, including an estimated 7.6 percent of older adults in New York, were food insecure in 2020. As the American population continues to age rapidly, with more than 75 million Americans aged 60 years and older, it’s vital to supply nutritional programs with the resources needed to create a pathway for social connection and meal deliveries for the older adult community.
ON THE GROUND
In Clinton County, Congregate Meals are dispensed through the Senior Citizens Council Nutrition Program.
“In Clinton County we serve approximately 500 people,” Debbie Alexander, congregate meals director for the Clinton County Nutrition Program, said.
“That is including the Home Delivered Meals Program, the Meals on Wheels, as well as the congregate dining sites. We have six congregate dining sites. We have three in Plattsburgh, one in Rouses Point, one in Ellenburg, and one in Dannemora.”
Home Delivered Meals are dispensed through the Clinton County Office for the Aging Nutrition Program.
Meal Transporters deliver the meals Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays, to Clinton County residents.
Frozen meals are available for weekends and holidays.
“We fund the congregate meals at sites throughout the different areas of the county, and then we have funding that supports the Home Delivered Meals Programs,” Jody Mercaldi, administrative assistant for the Clinton County Office for the Aging, said.
“The Congregate Meals and the Home Delivered Meals, we have federal funds for that. We also have a state-funding stream for the Home Delivered Meals, also. As you can imagine, that’s our biggest portion of the nutrition is the Home Delivered Meals.”
The OAA is a major federal vehicle for delivery of social and nutrition services for more than 11 million older Americans and their caregivers.
These programs include congregate nutrition services, home-delivered nutrition services, transportation services, activities to promote socialization and wellness, employment and community service programs, and family caregiver support.
Specifically, Gillibrand is calling to fund both OAA programs and OAA Title III-C Nutrition Services in the final FY23 appropriations bill.