New bill proposes senior nutrition taskforce
By: Sydney Sheffield
A new bipartisan bill has been introduced to improve nutrition in older adults. The Senior Nutrition Taskforce Act of 2023 would establish an interagency taskforce to address hunger and help seniors, as well as adults with disabilities, better access healthy foods. The House version of the bill is co-sponsored by Representatives. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Jasmine Crockett(D-TX). A companion Senate version of the bill is co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA).
“Food insecurity is persisting amid the post-pandemic recovery and is affecting the most vulnerable in our communities, including our seniors and those who have disabilities,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to be leading this bipartisan effort to establish a task force dedicated to improving nutrition outcomes and focused on streamlining the process for seniors and disabled Americans to be able to better utilize their nutrition benefits.”
The legislation would create a task force led by its own secretary. It would include representatives from multiple government agencies and anti-hunger advocacy groups. The president would also appoint at least six members who receive federal nutrition benefits. Those members would include older Americans, adults with disabilities, and members of grandfamilies or kinship families. The task force would be responsible for evaluating the current situation and delivering a report to Congress by Sept. 30, 2026.
“Millions of older Americans and Americans with disabilities face barriers to accessing nutritious food,” said Senator Casey, Chairman of the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. “The bipartisan Senior Nutrition Task Force Act is an important step towards tearing down those barriers and making sure our seniors and adults with disabilities get the food they need to live long, healthy, and independent lives.”
According to Senator Casey, in the United States, an estimated 5.5 million Americans over the age of 60 face food insecurity, while adults with disabilities are twice as likely to be food insecure than adults without disabilities. Nutritious food is vital to ensuring health and independence for both older adults and people with disabilities, yet both groups face significant challenges with food access.
To combat this, in addition to the Senior Nutrition Taskforce Act of 2023, Senator Casey also introduced the Tools for Ensuring Access to Meals (TEAM) Act. This bill will establish a new nationwide pilot program to innovatively address hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition among older adults and adults with disabilities.
Specifically, the bill will:
- Equip federal agencies with tools and best practices for implementing interagency collaborations that address food insecurity and reduce barriers to participation in federal nutrition programs
- Provide $5 million in annual funding to the Administration for Community Living to award non-profits, local aging and disability service providers, and government entities grants to pilot innovative models that promote access and participation in federal nutrition programs
- Evaluate the effectiveness of programs conducted on the state and local level and improve data collection
“These bills are important steps toward tearing down the barriers our seniors and adults with disabilities face and making sure they get the food they need to live long, healthy, and independent lives,” Casey said.