Lengthy earlier than my time as Secretary of the Division of Well being and Human Providers, I’ve labored to make sure older People – and all People – have entry to protected, nutritious meals.
As a member of the U.S. Home of Representatives for greater than 20 years, I labored tirelessly to help funding for packages that forestall starvation and meals insecurity in our communities.
And as Legal professional Normal of the State of California, I fought to guard the Supplemental Diet Help Program (SNAP), defending entry to meals for many who want it most.
This work is essential to advancing well being fairness. The proof is obvious: Good vitamin helps reduce down on persistent illness, which disproportionately hurts our most susceptible communities. That’s why we’ve partnered with businesses just like the Meals and Drug Administration to cut back the extent of sodium in meals throughout the nation and mitigate persistent illness that’s usually tied to salty meals.
I’m proud to proceed this work as HHS Secretary. And in the present day, I’m delighted to have fun the fiftieth anniversary of the Older People Act (OAA) Diet Program.
The Older People Act Diet Program was signed into regulation on March 22, 1972, creating the primary federal program to help the well being and well-being of older adults by vitamin providers. Many years later, the OAA Senior Diet Program – administered by the Administration for Group Dwelling (ACL) – continues to fund native businesses and organizations that assist older adults entry wholesome meals and different assets in order that they’ll stay impartial, properly, 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 biggest want — individuals with low earnings, 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 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 Diet Program is about greater than entry to wholesome meals – it additionally supplies vitamin screening, schooling, and counseling, in addition to a significant hyperlink to well being assets, social connections, and an array of house and community-based providers that help older adults’ total well-being. The house-delivered meal program additionally supplies older adults with a chance for social interplay with a pleasant face that they could 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 Diet 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 schooling.
As we commemorate this milestone anniversary of the OAA Senior Diet Program, I need to commend the organizations and people who run native senior vitamin packages throughout the nation on daily basis – and the perseverance of the older People they serve. Now as Secretary of HHS, I’ll maintain working as I’ve completed all through my profession to make sure all People have entry to protected, nutritious meals and the providers wanted to help total well-being. Collectively, we’ll construct on 50 years of progress and shut the fairness gaps that plague our well being care system. And we’ll proceed innovating to make sure that, because the older American inhabitants grows, we are able to present the help they should age independently of their communities, with dignity, and in good well being.