Lengthy earlier than my time as Secretary of the Division of Well being and Human Companies, I’ve labored to make sure older People – and all People – have entry to secure, nutritious meals.
As a member of the U.S. Home of Representatives for greater than twenty years, I labored tirelessly to assist funding for packages that forestall starvation and meals insecurity in our communities.
And as Legal professional Basic of the State of California, I fought to guard the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program (SNAP), defending entry to meals for individuals who want it most.
This work is essential to advancing well being fairness. The proof is obvious: Good vitamin helps lower down on power illness, which disproportionately hurts our most susceptible communities. That’s why we’ve partnered with businesses just like the Meals and Drug Administration to scale back the extent of sodium in meals throughout the nation and mitigate power illness that’s usually tied to salty meals.
I’m proud to proceed this work as HHS Secretary. And at the moment, I’m delighted to have a good time the fiftieth anniversary of the Older People Act (OAA) Vitamin Program.
The Older People Act Vitamin Program was signed into regulation on March 22, 1972, creating the primary federal program to assist the well being and well-being of older adults by means of vitamin providers. A long time later, the OAA Senior Vitamin Program – administered by the Administration for Neighborhood Dwelling (ACL) – continues to fund native businesses and organizations that assist older adults entry wholesome meals and different sources in order that they’ll stay unbiased, effectively, and related of their properties and communities.
Every day, about 5,000 vitamin program suppliers serve an estimated 1 million meals to older People throughout the nation. The packages give attention to underserved communities and others in best want — folks with low revenue, these in rural areas, and members of minority communities, together with these with limited-English proficiency. These meals make a distinction – over half of members inform us that the meal they obtain by means of this system provides 50% or extra of their complete meals for the day, and greater than 70% report that they eat more healthy meals due to this system.
However the OAA Senior Vitamin Program is about greater than entry to wholesome meals – it additionally offers vitamin screening, training, and counseling, in addition to an important hyperlink to well being sources, social connections, and an array of dwelling and community-based providers that assist older adults’ total well-being. The house-delivered meal program additionally offers older adults with a possibility for social interplay with a pleasant face that they might not in any other case see. And congregate meals – the place older adults can collect to eat with others of their group – present invaluable alternatives for significant connections that keep the well being of members.
Regardless of the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic over the previous two years, the OAA Senior Vitamin Program has continued to supply these very important providers. Native packages pivoted to make use of versatile, inventive approaches to proceed serving their communities, from curbside meal occasions and partnerships with eating places to safe-distanced doorstep meals drops and digital vitamin training.
As we commemorate this milestone anniversary of the OAA Senior Vitamin Program, I wish to commend the organizations and people who run native senior vitamin packages throughout the nation every single day – and the perseverance of the older People they serve. Now as Secretary of HHS, I’ll preserve working as I’ve executed all through my profession to make sure all People have entry to secure, nutritious meals and the providers wanted to assist total well-being. Collectively, we are going to construct on 50 years of progress and shut the fairness gaps that plague our well being care system. And we are going to proceed innovating to make sure that, because the older American inhabitants grows, we will present the assist they should age independently of their communities, with dignity, and in good well being.