Meals on Wheels of Tampa and its Contribution to the Older Americans Act

free essayMeals on Wheels is a Non-Governmental Organization that delivers meals to people who are unable to purchase or prepare their own food. The biggest percentage of the beneficiaries of this program is senior citizens. The idea behind this program is to ensure that the physically and financially fortunate people have a social responsibility to take care of the aging population. One of the social contributions and impacts the program had on the society is the enactment of the Older Americans Act that facilitates funds for the welfare of senior members of communities.

Before the introduction of the Meals on Wheels program, seniors were forced to relocate to the homes for the aged merely because they could not cook basic foods for themselves. Due to the inadequacy or lack of food, many other seniors ended up in hospitals due to malnutrition. In most cases, the sick, elderly patients spent a prolonged time in hospitals since they did not have anyone to take care of them at home. This state of affairs was very costly to the government and medical institutions, because even after people had been discharged from hospitals, their medical complications usually recurred and sometimes deteriorated due to the lack of a helper at home (East York Meals on Wheels, 2016).

The ideology of home food delivery originated in the United Kingdom in 1930 and became quite necessary following World War II. The mode of transport used at the time was baby carriages and bicycles. The food was wrapped in blankets to retain warmth. The challenge with that program was that it required many volunteers with a basic knowledge of cooking. Due to the positive impact of the service on the public and the World War II victims, it became a social service system in Great Britain (East York Meals on Wheels, 2016).

Since the first program instituted in the Great Britain, the home food delivery ideology has been spreading to many places across the globe. The program can also be found in Australia since 1953 and Canada since 1963. In the United States of America, the program received national recognition in 1974 upon the establishment of the Meals on Wheels America (MOWA). MOWA provided support to more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition organizations across the nation. MOWA empowers local members, such as the Meals on Wheels of Tampa, by providing them with funds, leadership, education, and advocacy support. In collaboration with local chapters, MOWA efficiently mobilizes resources of local organizations, businesses, donors, sponsors, and more than two million volunteers into a national safety net for seniors (East York Meals on Wheels, 2016).

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As noted above, Meals on Wheels of Tampa (MOWT) is a local branch of the national program MOWA. MOWT is located at W Hillsborough Avenue Tampa. The institution offers hot, fresh, nourishing meals to the homebound, disabled, and elderly throughout the Tampa community. The delivery is made every day at around noontime to the doorsteps of the homebound persons. It is through the contributions of the MOWA and its branches, such as MOWT, that the need to have a national legislation on the welfare of the aged was influenced, hence the enactment of the Old Age Act.

Effectiveness of the Old Age Act (OAA)

Actual Title of the Program and the Year of Enactment

This public policy is known as the Older Americans Act the original passage of which was in the year 1965. In the year 2012, the Budget Control Act brought about measures that significantly reduced the budgetary allocation for the OAA programs. As a result, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (a coalition of 72 NGOs which includes WOMA) petitioned Obama’s administration to increase budgetary allocation for the senior people. The Coalition argued that many years of inadequate funding and fast growth of the aging population could negatively influence the very sustainability of the OAA programs. It was their further averment that fewer funds dedicated to the OAA programs were jeopardizing the wellbeing, decorum, and liberty of older Americans. It is their motion and staunch support of the OAA programs that influenced the enactment of the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016.

Problems that the OAA Intended to Address

The objective of this piece of legislation was to promote the dignity of older adults by offering services and support that would help them remain independent and engaged citizens within their communities. The Act was also intended to provide a funding policy by which agencies, tribal organizations, and local service providers dealing with older people could get financial assistance.

To efficiently manage the many challenges that the Statute intended to resolve the legislature divided its objectives into titles. Under Title III, the Act provided grants for State and Community Programs on Aging. Title III covers supportive services, such as case management, senior center services, homebound services, transportation, and information and referral. Programs on nutrition such as the MOW and Senior Center Group meals are under Title III. Other nutritious programs included are Family Caregiver Support, Health promotion, and disease prevention services.

The other objective of the Act was to reduce poverty and hunger for senior citizens. In his Senate hearing testimony, Senator Howard Bedlin argued that by reauthorizing the OAA, America would be going a long way in ensuring that its aging population does not languish in poverty and suffer from malnutrition among other illnesses that are related to old age (NCOA, 2016).

The Act also aimed at protecting the elders from abuse and strengthening protracted ombudsman’s care services. In coming up with such an approach, the legislators realized that seniors receive expensive services that include home care nursing. For the purpose of protecting susceptible senior adults, the Statute worked towards ensuring that they benefit from their savings from programs such as the Medicare and Medicaid. It was also the Statute’s objective to encourage healthy living by establishing programs that avert chronic diseases. The programs were designed to improve the quality of life and prevent avoidable medical expenses.

Effectiveness of the OAA

The OAA has been able to successfully provide funds to 56 State agencies, more than 200 tribal organizations, two Hawaiian institutions, more than 600 area groups on aging, and 20, 000 local service providers such as the Meals on Wheels of Tampa (NCPSSM, 2016).

To ensure that the funds benefit the intended persons, the National Committee provides that only persons aged 60 and above should benefit from the resources. The funds are distributed to the states proportionately to the number of senior people they have (NCPSSM, 2016).

Another factor that has facilitated its efficiency is the establishment of the Administration on Aging (AoA), as well as the Aging Services Network, that provides vital home and community-based support services. The OAA does not strictly limit itself to persons of age 60 and above. Its programs also provide support to families through the provision of services to caregivers. The programs also create employment in the health and long-term care sectors in local communities national-wide (NCPSSM, 2016).

The OAA does not just concern itself with funding, but also ensures that the meals delivered using the OAA funds are of the best quality. Food preparation is supposed to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). The meals for the aged should have a minimum of one-third of the Dietary Reference Intakes and meet state and local food safety and sanitation requirements, as well as be appealing to senior citizens. It is the States’ responsibility to ensure effective monitoring of food quality. The State has a responsibility to provide and implement nutritional standards (ACL, 2016).

The OAA has been successful in that; it has provided millions of adults with essential services. In estimation, for every five seniors, one is a beneficiary. According to the data, eleven million people access the OAA programs (Blancato, 2014).

The OAA plays a role in ensuring that the elderly remain active to avoid medical complications that can be caused by inactiveness. Through the program on Senior Community Service Employment, the Act provides part-time community service employment opportunities to thousands of adults over the age of 55 (Blancato, 2014).

As a result of the 2000 amendment to the law, family caregivers can now access the resources when in need. This aid has lead to an increase in the number of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren in the U.S. (Blancato, 2014).

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An assessment of the distribution of its programs throughout the country would show the success of the Act. These programs exist in every State and almost every Congressional district. It executes its activities through an aging network that consists of state units on aging, area agencies on aging, and many other service providers. The Act enhances local decision-making regarding what is the best and most essential service for older adults (Blancato, 2014).

Unintended Consequences of the OAA.

Financial constraints of the government and the organizations running the program are one of the significant unintended consequences of the statute. Due to financial constraint, the program has experienced monetary undercuts that have hugely affected the smooth running of their services.

The financial problems have been caused by the inflation of commodities and the fast-growing older population. Due to these constraints, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act was enacted in the year 2016.

A positive social consequence of the OAA is that, though its initial intention was to provide care and benefit to persons from the age of 60, after the programs kicked off, it was found necessary to include people with disabilities, homebound individuals, and persons of very low income.

The program has been successful in that, as Blancato (2014) argued, the grandparents are not just taking care of themselves; they are also capable of taking care of their grandchildren.

Current Status of the Policy

Since the enactment of the OAA Reauthorization Act in the year 2016, the Federal government has increased funding to the programs. The increase is funding is supposed to compensate the programs for the previous periods of massive undercuts. As noted in this article, Meals on Wheels of Tampa has been relying on donations, volunteers, and community well-wishers to supplement the funds they were receiving from the government. With the increased state funding, food delivery is much likely to be efficient and adequate.

Despite the government’s funding increment, the program still faces financial challenges due to the growing population of senior citizens. Relying solely on funds from OAA would mean that many programs would have to close.

Whether MOWT is still engaged in advocacy on this issue.

Considering MOWT is a branch of the MOWA, most of its advocacy is done by MOWA. Through the Leadership Council On Aging Organizations, MOWA, which is a coalition member. continues to push for timely and bipartisan reauthorization of OAA (NCOA, 2016).

Since its letter to the Senate on Reauthorization dated July 22nd, 2014, NCOA and its coalition members have been pushing for the adoption of its recommendation (LCAO, 2016). It was through advocacy and lobbying that the enactment of the Act became possible before the expiry of the 113th Congress.

In conclusion, NGOs play a significant role in influencing social change. This paper revealed that before the establishment of the first Meals on Wheels program in the U.K., older citizens were suffering from poverty and hunger with no one to take care of them. After communities had come together through NGOs to offer help, their actions became recognized as a social service activity. Due to that many others have pushed towards having their governments enact policies that deal with the needs of older people.