Older Americans Act (OAA): Older Adults Going Hungry


Older Americans Act (OAA) was established in 1965 under the presidency of Lyndon B Johnson, to help aging adults live independently at home and to offer a wide range of services through this act. In 1972 the OAA added nutritional food program, which include congregate food sites, and meals on wheels. In 1974 transportation was added to the OAA which is the main transportation for the aging population to get them back and forth to doctor appointments and the grocery stores. Other important programs through the OAA include, social services, case management, and mediation management.

Problem Issue

Older Americans Act (OAA) focuses on eliminating hunger among older adults and disabled persons. Older adults face a number of unique medical and mobility challenges that put them at a greater risk of hunger. Many are forced to make the tough choice between buying food and medicine, and others struggle to access food without reliable transportation. The rate of hunger among older adult 60 and older has increased by 53% since 2001, a lingering effect of the 2008-09 recession. The number of seniors struggling with hunger is projected to increase by another 50% when the youngest of the baby-boom generation reach 60 in 2025. 63% of older adult households served by meals on wheels are forced to choose between food and medical care. The older population that receives services through the OAA are 60 or older living in poverty or disabled. The aging population that receives services through the OAA has an increased risk of having a chronic health issue. Only 42% of eligible seniors are enrolled and receiving SNAP benefits (formerly Food Stamps) making assistance programs for SNAP enrollment that much more important for older adults. The rate of hunger among older adults age 60 or older has increased by 53% since 2001. The rate of older adults struggling with hunger will increase another 50 % by 2025. Many older adults are forced to choose between buying food or medicine. Older adults have limited transportation to access food and designated congregate making food site options limited within the communities for them to get to.

Existing Policy

The policy targets older adults and the disabled. (OAA.) The targeted population is low- income and older persons at risk of losing their independence, a spouse of any age, disabled persons under the age of 60 who reside in housing facilities occupied primarily by the elderly where congregate meals are served, disabled persons who reside at home, and people that accompany older persons to meal and nutrition service volunteers. The Older Americans Act policy has become beneficial to the population it serves by being (OAA) highly rated by the recipients, it is effectively targeting the vulnerable populations it aids individuals and caregivers which allows older persons to maintain their independence and avoid premature nursing home placement. The program reduces doctor visits and hospital stays by giving older adults a daily nutritional meal.

State & federal funding provide grants come from The Administration on Aging Elderly Nutrition programs that is authorized under Title III, grants for State and Community programs. These grants fall under the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program. At the federal level the Administration for Community Living and Administration on Aging, implements this policy. At the state level the Division of Aging and Adult Services implements this policy. Regional/local levels agencies on aging implements congregate nutrition programs and distribution of home-delivered meals through nutrition program to home bound clients and congregate lunch programs for older adults. State policy implements services under Older Americans Act: Title III Nutrition Services Program through The Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP) which provides funds to states, territories, and Indian tribal organizations to purchase food or to cover the costs of food commodities provided by the USDA for the congregate meals and home-delivered nutrition programs.Local agencies provide health-promoting meals in a variety of group settings, such as senior centers, and faith-based settings, as well as in the homes of isolated older adults. Their nutrition program also provides a range of related services through the aging network’s home-delivered meal providers and congregate meal providers. There are related nutritional services which include nutrition screening, assessment, education and counseling. Nutritional education provides an important link for seniors for supportive in-home and community-based services such as homemaker and home-health aide services, transportation, physical activity programs, chronic disease self-management programs, home repair and modification, and falls prevention programs.


As the aging population continues to grow in the United States the need for more funding for home bound meals and congregate meal sites is inevitable. The American Older Act should mandate that older adults be allowed daily meal varieties to be offered to the clients, allowing them to have a say in what food they eat, due to clients refusing to get on local programs, due to having a choice about what they are eating. More congregate senior food sites need to be made available in various locations within communities to serves more clients. Having more congregate food sites in numerous parts of a community will allow those individuals not within public transportation pick up locations to reach these sites. Income eligibility needs to change for lower middle-class families in need of meals. Age limit needs to be lowered to 55 or allow any disabled individuals to receive meals. Transportation services need to be extended further out within communities to ensure all older adults can reach food sites. Transportation service need to be offered to seniors to a site where they can get physical exercise and education on the importance of their health to reduce chronic disease. Older adults need education on the services available to them due to many not knowing these services are available. The older adults that are not aware these services are available are going hungry and not getting proper medical care. More medical transportation needs to be made available for the aging population without transportation to access medical care with no cost to them.

11 February 2020
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