Rep. Wild Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Senior Meal Delivery, Nutrition

March 19, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07) and Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN-01) introduced critical bipartisan legislation to prioritize and improve meal delivery and nutrition services for seniors during the coronavirus outbreak.


The Combatting Hunger for Older Americans During Coronavirus Crisis Act, would help ensure older individuals and individuals with disabilities receive the meals provided to them under the Older Americans Act through in-home delivery, as opposed to group settings, throughout this pandemic.


“In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, increased support for our seniors needs to be a national priority,” Wild said. “Right now, the most important thing we can do is make sure basic needs are met while exercising best practices to help prevent further spread of this virus. While we implore folks to self-quarantine, we have to make adjustments so they can do so. I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside my colleague, Congressman Phil Roe, to cut bureaucratic red tape and meet this emergency with the robust response it demands. No senior should go hungry as they act in the best interest of their own health by remaining at home.”


"As we deal with this unprecedented crisis, we must do everything we can to take care of older Americans who are the most vulnerable to coronavirus,” said Roe. “With the majority of these individuals staying at home, it's critical they have access to the meals they need without risking their health. That is why I am proud to join my colleague Rep. Susan Wild to ensure our elderly are fed. This bill will temporarily waive restrictions for nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels, so that these entities can use their funding to ensure home-delivered goods can get to all older Americans and encourage them to stay safe at home.”


Under the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA), individuals aged 60 or older and their spouses (regardless of age) are eligible to participate in congregate nutrition programs which provide meals and related nutrition services at senior centers, community centers, schools, and adult day care centers. In 2016, 79.2 million congregate meals were served to nearly 1.6 million meal participants. As social distancing has become a necessity to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Wild’s legislation would transfer these congregate nutrition funds to home-delivery services and expand meal access to our most vulnerable population.


Earlier this month, the House unanimously passed H.R. 4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act 2020, a bipartisan reauthorization of the OAA that increases funding for vital social and nutrition services for aging Americans and their caregivers. Wild has been a key supporter of this reauthorization.


These congregate services are untenable during this pandemic since there needs to be social distancing and quarantining, especially among older Americans. This legislation, which allows the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer congregate nutrition funds to home-delivery services, will allow more older Americans to be fed. 


Specifically, Wild’s legislation: 


  • Provides flexibility to allow older individuals and individuals with disabilities to receive home-delivered meals (as opposed to congregate meals) if they are staying home due to COVID-19;
  • Allows states to transfer up to 100% of funds between home delivered and congregate nutrition accounts during COVID-19 to accommodate the increased need for home-delivered meals (under current law states can only transfer 40%);
  • Allows the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to waive the nutrition standards for OAA nutrition programs to accommodate frozen meals, needed adjustments due to food system disruptions and shortages, and other adaptations needed to continue serving meals during COVID-19.