Sen. Sanders’ Older Americans Act Bill: What it Means for Senior Centers
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Sen. Sanders’ Older Americans Act Bill: What it Means for Senior Centers

February 6, 2012

Support the OAA!

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has introduced a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA).

What’s in it for senior centers?

The good news is that the legislation champions many of NCOA’s top priorities for OAA reauthorization. These include:

Senior Center Modernization

Sen. Sanders has made modernizing senior centers a priority by infusing language throughout the OAA to support this goal. His bill also includes NCOA’s proposal for a senior center modernization fund that would invest in indentifying models of modern senior centers, building the evidence base for successful practices and strategies, and providing training and technical assistance to replicate these models. 

Senior Nutrition Programs

Much of the OAA’s potential has not been realized due to limited funding. In recognition of this, Sen. Sanders calls for increased funding in key areas, including a 50% increase for the congregate and home-delivered meals programs.

In response to requests for increased flexibility in nutrition program funding and implementation, the bill proposes to establish minimum allocations of 40% to congregate and 35% to home-delivered programs, with a 25% flexible account that could be used for either program or for transportation services in support of nutrition. In addition, the maximum amount that could be transferred from the nutrition programs to supportive services would be reduced from 30% to 25%. These changes are an attempt to increase flexibility while preserving each of the nutrition programs.

Stay tuned for further developments on this issue, as the proposal may change in response to concerns about potential reductions in congregate resources and implementation of this new funding stream.

What’s Next?

Sen. Sanders is chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, which is tasked with taking the lead on OAA reauthorization. Over the next few months, his proposals will be merged with those outlined in other bills to form a comprehensive package for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to mark up and report to the full Senate for consideration.

If your senior center is located in Vermont, please write to Sen. Sanders to thank him for his leadership, particularly in support of modernizing senior centers and defending the congregate nutrition program. You may want to watch or read his statements to see how he articulates these priorities in his own words.

If you do write to Sen. Sanders, please let us know! Complete our Advocacy Feedback Form or send a copy of your letter to


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