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 protected, nutritious meals.
As a member of the U.S. Home of Representatives for greater than 20 years, I labored tirelessly to assist funding for applications that stop starvation and meals insecurity in our communities.
And as Lawyer Basic 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 evident: 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 typically tied to salty meals.
I’m proud to proceed this work as HHS Secretary. And as we speak, I’m delighted to rejoice 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 assist the well being and well-being of older adults by vitamin providers. A long time later, the OAA Senior Diet 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 assets in order that they will stay impartial, properly, and linked 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 applications give attention to underserved communities and others in best want — folks 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 whole 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 offers vitamin screening, training, and counseling, in addition to an important hyperlink to well being assets, social connections, and an array of house and community-based providers that assist older adults’ general 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 Diet Program has continued to offer these very important providers. Native applications pivoted to make use of versatile, artistic 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 Diet Program, I need to commend the organizations and people who run native senior vitamin applications throughout the nation day-after-day – 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 assist general 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.