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After 50 Years, Nutrition Program Continues Vital Mission

By CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
March 21, 2022

GSA invites you to join with us and many others nationwide as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program. It was on March 22, 1972, that President Richard Nixon signed into law the measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include a national nutrition program for older adults aged 60 and above.

This legislation has helped to fund community-based programs — like Meals on Wheels — and has been responsible for the only federal program designed specifically to meet both the nutritional and social needs of older adults. Thank you to all of our members who have contributed to the success of this important work.

GSA recently became an organizational endorser of a bipartisan resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, which recognizes the anniversary of these important programs and expresses support for sustained funding, so that providers can continue to successfully offer these vital services.

Each year in the U.S., up to half of adults aged 65 and older are at risk of malnutrition, and more than 10 million face hunger. The Nutrition Program provides critical nutrition services to millions of older adults and individuals with disabilities, including home-delivered meals and meals provided in congregate settings. More than 5,000 local agencies operate in communities around the country and are supported by several million volunteers. These proven programs reduce hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition. They also provide social opportunities for older individuals and promote their health and well-being through access to disease prevention and other health services.

Several partners are hosting anniversary events that you can be a part of. On March 22 at 4 p.m. ET, there will be a Facebook Live event hosted by Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs Executive Director Bob Blancato. It will include a conversation about how far we’ve come and the work we have left to tackle older adult hunger and social isolation in America. The event will include first-hand testimony from Nutrition Program participants.

On March 31 at 1 pm. ET, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) will host a National 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration. It will feature special award announcements for outstanding contributions of individuals at the state, area, and local levels. ACL has chosen “Celebrate. Innovate. Educate.” as the theme for the anniversary to celebrate the many accomplishments of the national and local programs, acknowledge innovative approaches used to support older adults, and look at how education can help communities understand and use nutrition services.

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