INTRODUCTION OF THE STOP SENIOR HUNGER ACT OF 2005 -- HON. FRANK. A. LoBIONDO (Extensions of Remarks - April 22, 2005)
HON. FRANK. A. LoBIONDO
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005
Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise here today in support of the "Stop Senior Hunger Act of 2005." This important piece of legislation reauthorizes vital senior nutrition programs. These programs help these men and women in cities, suburbs and rural communities across America who are elderly, homebound, disabled, frail or at risk. They help those with long-term illnesses and those who may just need a little short-term assistance after a hospital stay or during a time of need. In the words of the Meals-on-Wheels Association of America, the oldest and largest national organization representing senior meal programs in the United States, these programs are needed "so no senior goes hungry."
The "Stop Senior Hunger Act of 2005" reauthorizes through 2010 both congregate and home delivered nutrition services-those meals provided at local senior centers and those meals delivered to homebound seniors. It also reauthorizes the Nutrition Services Incentive program which provides additional funds to states based on each state's share of the total meals served by Meals on Wheels and other senior nutrition programs in all states the prior year.
The average beneficiary may be very familiar to you-she may be your mother, your grandmother or your next door neighbor. She is an elderly woman in her very late seventies or early eighties and is more than twice as likely as her contemporaries to live alone, apart from family and friends. She is likely to have trouble with walking or climbing stairs and have a number of diagnosed chronic health conditions. In addition, she probably has an income below $18,000. Whatever the reason, she cannot shop, cook, or prepare meals for herself. She relies on Meals on Wheels and other senior nutrition programs to ensure she gets proper nutrition.
The demand for the services Meals on Wheels and other senior nutrition programs provide will continue to increase at an astounding pace. As many of you know, the over 65 population in the United States is growing and is projected to increase dramatically. In fact, those individuals age 85 or older, is the fastest growing segment of the entire United States population.
Meals on Wheels and other senior nutrition programs are also an excellent use of our increasingly scarce federal dollars. They save federal Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' health care costs since malnourished patients stay in a hospital nearly twice as long as well nourished seniors. In addition, for every federal dollar spent as part of these programs as much as three dollars are leveraged from other funding sources, including state, local and private funds and participant contributions toward the cost of meals.
I was proud to participate in the Meals on Wheels Association of America's "March for Meals" last month. I joined volunteers from Meals on Wheels of Salem County, New Jersey in delivering meals and witnessed first hand both the need for these important programs and the incredible dedication of their staff and volunteers. I encourage each of you to get involved with your local programs-whether you help prepare meals, deliver meals, or just join local seniors in enjoying their meals-your support can make a difference.
For all of these reasons, I urge my colleagues in the House to support the "Stop Senior Hunger Act of 2005."