Letters and messages written on paper plates are being delivered today to Senate and House offices asking current legislators to take action on the existing budget deficit before they adjourn for the year. According to the Budget Control Act passed in 2011, if this Congress fails to agree to new policies regarding the federal deficit before December 31, automatic cuts will be imposed on both defense and non-defense discretionary programs. It is estimated that senior programs authorized by the Older Americans Act could see cuts of approximately 8.4%, including the important Home Delivered Meals programs administered by the Area Agencies on Aging in Missouri. In Missouri, seniors will lose at least 500,000 meals from the home-delivered meals program. On a national level, an estimated 17 million older adults would no longer be able to receive home-delivered meals.
“Now is the time for Congress to take decisive action to protect our seniors,” said Catherine Edwards, executive director of the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging (MA4). “The elections are over and winners and losers in those races have been determined. Now, Missouri seniors are asking those who still hold office to act immediately to insure that Missouri’s seniors are not losers in the battle over our federal budget.”
“Congress has just 11 working days left between now and the end of the year to hammer out a bi-partisan agreement that protects food and other programs that are basic necessities for our older adult population,” said Edwards. “Inaction will result in people losing their basic links to nutrition and health programs and will cause enormous ripples throughout both our public health and social services infrastructure. We cannot simply kick the can down the road anymore.”
The Paper Plate campaign originated in Missouri. “This is not a fancy or expensive initiative and we do not have the same slick resources that political campaigns have had at their disposal,” said Edwards. “This is a sincere effort that comes directly from the people who are most at risk. These are paper plates, not fancy china. We are simply looking for fairness in the budget process to make sure that the plates we send do not come back empty.”
The Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging (MA4) was founded in 1973 to serve as a statewide advocate and resource for older Missourians. MA4 is comprised of the state’s 10 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), which were created under the 1973 amendments to the Older American’s Act of 1965. For more than 38 years, these local agencies have been providing vital services, programs and information to millions of Missourians and their caregivers, including legal services, home-delivered meals, disease prevention and health promotion, transportation, public benefits counseling, senior centers and in-home services. The 10 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) provide a coordinated network of care in implementing statewide initiatives that are designed to help older Missourians maintain their independence and give them a voice in articulating their concerns and changing needs.
As the official statewide association of these agencies, MA4 is dedicated to carrying out its mission of service, information and advocacy to improve the lives of older Missourians and to plan for the changes that will take place as the aging population grows in number and importance in the next decade.