Critter Corner: How the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Helps Feed Seniors in Need

Dear Angel,

I heard about the CARES Act and how it helps seniors, as well as small businesses, and others during the coronavirus pandemic. Are there any other laws to help seniors with nutrition services? They are needed now more than ever, since it’s safer for seniors to remain in their homes to protect themselves from coronavirus.

Thanks for your help!

Newt Trissius-Meels

Dear Newt,

As most of us know, seniors are at the greatest risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time when seniors shouldn’t be out and about, it’s important to keep our senior loved ones safe and well-nourished in their homes. The costs and efforts needed to ensure that homebound seniors get nutritious meals at this time require additional emergency funds. This is what prompted a senior nutrition provision to be included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an emergency aid package that Congress approved amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The FFCRA includes $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program through the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to provide approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition programs in their communities. This funding will provide meals to low-income seniors:

  • who are homebound;
  • who have disabilities;
  • who have multiple chronic illnesses;
  • as well as caregivers for seniors who are homebound.

ACL’s Senior Nutrition grants are provided to States, territories, and eligible tribal organizations and serve more than 2.4 million individuals annually. Nearly two-thirds of recipients of home-delivered meals report these meals as more than half of their food intake for the day.

In addition to expanding food and nutrition services for seniors and those with disabilities, the FFCRA provides paid sick and family leave and creates tax credits for affected employers, allows for emergency state unemployment insurance grants, and increases Medicaid funding to states.
WV Senator Believes More Funding is Still Needed for Senior Nutrition Programs During Coronavirus Pandemic

Yesterday, 5/7, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) encouraged Senate colleagues to include more funding for senior nutrition programs, such as home-based nutrition delivery services, in the next COVID-19 relief legislation. Senator Manchin’s HOME Meals Act (S. 1674) would:

  • Establish a 5-year competitive grant program for states to purchase, customize, or repair vehicles that provide meals to older Americans.
  • Authorize $60 million a year over five years for a total of $300 million.
  • Require preference for grants be given to states with:
  • High percentages of individuals who are 60 years of age or older;
  • High rate of individuals at or below poverty line; and
  • Have operating meal delivery programs at the time of application.

We’ll provide updates about the status of this Act if and when they become available.

Do You Know a Senior Who Needs Assistance with Getting Nutritious Meals?

Nutrition services are currently available for seniors in need in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC.

• For assistance in Virginia, please click here.
• For assistance in Maryland (Montgomery County), please click here.
• For assistance in DC, please click here.

Hope this is helpful,

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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