Merkley, Wyden announce funding for meals to low-income seniors

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Tuesday that Oregon will receive more than $3 million to help provide home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income older adults, as communities are ordered to stay home and avoid social contact in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“The federal government must be a full partner to our states as we work to contain this virus,” Merkley said. “That means looking out for our vulnerable neighbors, including seniors who are most at risk for experiencing severe symptoms from the coronavirus. And that means making sure funding goes to where it’s needed most. I will continue fighting to make sure federal resources go to families, front-line workers, and the businesses and individuals most impacted by this crisis, so that they get the support they need to make it to the other side.”

“For many elderly Oregonians struggling to make ends meet, a home-delivered meal is a lifeline,”  Wyden said. “That’s especially true during this coronavirus public health crisis, and I’m glad these resources are now flowing to support some of our state’s most vulnerable seniors. There’s still much more work to be done at the federal level to support all Oregonians in the middle of this global pandemic, and I am pulling out all the stops to make sure that happens.”

The $3.2 million in funding comes from $250 million in grants included for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,bipartisan legislation to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and support Oregonians.

In addition to this funding, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • ensures free testing for the coronavirus so that cost is not a barrier to necessary testing, especially for the uninsured;
  • establishes an emergency paid leave program;
  • provides more than $1 billion to strengthen nutrition assistance for low-income mothers, children and seniors;
  • provides states with much needed fiscal relief under Medicaid helping to protect patients and benefits; and
  • provides funding to states to improve their unemployment insurance programs so they can get benefits to workers who are laid off or furloughed.

The bill was the second funding package passed by Congress in response to coronavirus. Oregon last week was awarded $7.2 million to support the state’s effort to help contain and fight the spread of COVID-19. That funding was in addition to an initial $500,000 that the state received at the beginning of the month.