Meals on Wheels America called on the administration on Monday to allocate funding from the coronavirus supplemental appropriations package toward local senior nutrition programs.
The organization, which works to address senior isolation and hunger, teamed up with the advocacy group for senior nutrition programs, the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs.
They sent a letter to Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to request the federal funding be provided and maintained to senior nutrition programs until it is no longer needed so they can replenish and purchase more meals.
“Swift action and leadership are necessary to ensure community-based senior nutrition programs, those delivering nourishing meals directly to seniors’ homes and/or within group settings such as senior centers, are able to effectively respond to this evolving situation,” the letter read.
They also requested the funding to provide additional transportation for seniors in case community dining sites start to close, to purchase preventive items including hand sanitizers and masks, and to train more staff and volunteers.
“As with many illnesses, we know that older adults face higher risks of contracting COVID-19 and/or experiencing complications, particularly if they have underlying health conditions,” the letter read.
Data from the groups shows 9.5 million seniors in the U.S. are struggling with hunger and 1 in 4 lives alone.
There have been 22 deaths in the U.S. from the virus and at least 607 confirmed cases domestically, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Updated on March 10 at 9:40 a.m.