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Health and Human Services announces $250 million in grants to provide meals for older adults

The need for these services has increased as community measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 has closed meal sites.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

With the COVID-19 coronavirus continuing its spread and threatening older adults particularly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced $250 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living to help communities provide meals for older adults.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, provides the additional funding for the nutrition services programs authorized by the Older Americans Act of 1965. These programs provide meals to more than 2.4 million older adults each year, both through home delivery and through places such as community centers.

The need for these services, particularly home-delivered and packaged meals, has increased as community measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 have closed meal sites and have left many family caregivers unable to assist their older loved ones.

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WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

In addition to meals, Older Americans Act programs provide a wide range of services, such as help with bathing and dressing, rides to doctors' offices, education on managing chronic illnesses and support for family caregivers, as well as other services.

Provided by a network of community-based organizations, such as Area Agencies on Aging, local community and senior centers, faith-based organizations, and other non-profit service providers, the design of the programs is to work in tandem to help millions of older adults each year stay healthy and continue living independently.

Funding has been provided to states, territories and tribes for subsequent allocation to local meal providers. Grant amounts are determined based on the population-based formulas defined in the Older Americans Act.

New Hampshire, for instance, received a grant for $1,200,000. Oregon received a grant for $3,204,486. A breakdown of grant amounts can be found here.

Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/. More information on COVID-19A can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

THE LARGER TREND

Health officials have warned that while COVID-19 symptoms are mild in most people, they can be severe in others, and the elderly population is among the most susceptible to extreme symptoms.

Because of that, the use and prevalence of telehealth services has been exploding, with an increasing number of Americans addressing their health via remote technology as communities and society adapt to social distancing in an effort to slow the virus' spread.

ON THE RECORD

"The Trump Administration recognizes that the measures needed to protect older Americans from the serious threat of COVID-19 have been disruptive for many of our most vulnerable," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "Getting more funds to community organizations that deliver meals to older adults, such as Meals on Wheels, is another example of the Trump Administration's whole-of-government, whole-of-America approach to combating the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The network of community-based organizations that provide Older Americans Act services has an exceptional capacity to coordinate services, bring together service providers, and adapt to overcome challenges, and they are employing innovative solutions to continue meal services," said ACL Administrator Lance Robertson. "This additional funding will help communities across the country provide older adults, especially those at greatest risk, with the healthy meals they need."

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com