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State senior nutrition formula needs to be reconsidered

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on December 27, 2001:

Senator Dyson Making sure our senior citizens living on limited fixed incomes are properly and well fed is vital. Unfortunately, due to an outdated formula used by the state in allocating senior nutrition funding, Southern Maryland may end up not having enough money to provide adequate food for our elderly citizens who need it most.

Currently, the Maryland Office on Aging is using 1990 Census figures in its formula for funding counties’ nutrition programs. This is particularly alarming considering the fact that Southern Maryland has the fastest growing aging population in the state.

Calvert County for instance, has experienced a 190 percent increase in senior citizens (60 and over) since the 1990 census was taken. But since the state Office on Aging is required by law to use the 1990 Census figures in its formula, Calvert is one of three counties in Maryland to receive the minimum funds for the state nutrition program.

This crisis has come to my attention more than once. Inadequate funding for feeding our seniors -- especially the invaluable Meals on Wheels program (in Calvert and Charles) and the Home Delivered Meals for Seniors program (in St. Mary’s) -- was brought up and discussed in detail at the Calvert County Commissioners’ legislative forum and at the ambitious and extraordinarily well-attended St. Mary’s County Senior Summit on Nov. 16, 2001.

The Summit, sponsored by outstanding senior advocacy groups such as the Nation Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), Retired Teachers Association, Alzheimer’s Associations and others, identified many problems facing our senior citizens. The main concern was substantial senior citizen population growth and the state’s apparent indifference to the problems that arise because of that. One of the most major problems discussed was how to adequately feed seniors who don’t have the funds to do it on their own.

Already, there is great concern that funding Meals on Wheels in Calvert’s budget will be cut and there is a waiting list for the Home Delivered Meals for Seniors program in St. Mary’s. This is just wrong.

Why is it that our seniors are so neglected by our government officials every time I turn around? This “Greatest Generation” is being given short shrift and I’m tired of it. If it isn’t high cost of prescription drug coverage, it’s inadequate nutrition funding. I’m fed up with the lip service being given by politicians to seniors. They promise results, but rarely deliver.

It’s time we do something about it. Two years ago I sponsored the successful Short Term Prescription Drug Subsidy Plan. Now, I plan to make sure that seniors in Southern Maryland and other areas of the state who are being hurt by this archaic funding formula are not deprived of what they deserve – a solvent nutrition program that is not always scrambling for money.

I have contacted Sue Ward, secretary of Maryland’s Office on Aging and directed her to evaluate this problem. I have been advised that the MOA can make a change to the amount it allocates to the state nutrition program. Of course, there is a hitch.

The MOA can only make this change by holding a meeting with the Maryland Association of Area Agencies of Aging and convening a work group to discuss altering the nutrition funding formula. The MAAAA must then agree to alter the formula.

I have asked Ms. Ward to convene this work group as soon as possible. This is not something that can wait until a later day to fix. Time is running out and I’ll be holding both the MOA’s and MAAAA’s feet to the fire.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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