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Casey: The Senate Must Pass Bills to Combat the Effects of COVID-19 on Seniors

Casey Emphasizes Need for Policies to Support Seniors in Low-Income Communities, Communities of Color

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing entitled, “Combating Social Isolation and Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” During the hearing, Senator Casey highlighted his efforts to reduce social isolation among seniors by increasing funding for nutrition programs, including Meals on Wheels, food distribution at senior centers and SNAP delivery services.

“Since the start of the pandemic, I have proposed more than a dozen policies to help seniors and to combat social isolation – policies ranging from dollars for nursing homes to more funding for meal and grocery delivery services. In one way or another, all of these policies would be particularly beneficial to low-income communities and communities of color that have been most affected by the virus,” said Senator Casey. “Instead of passing these bills, the Senate spent the majority of the month of May considering nominations, not legislation to help address the pandemic. We cannot just lament the impact of the pandemic and the deaths and illness it has caused. We must have action. The Senate must continue to act to support our seniors.”

In May, Senator Casey led a bipartisan letter calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure SNAP participants can access delivery and curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Casey also introduced the Increasing Access to SNAP Delivery During COVID-19 Act, which would ensure SNAP participants, especially seniors and immunocompromised individuals, have access to delivery and curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Casey invited Najja Orr, the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), to testify. Mr. Orr detailed the importance of nutrition programs in sustaining mental and physical wellbeing of seniors during the COVID-19 public health crisis. “Senior nutrition programs, like home-delivered and congregate meal programs, provide isolated seniors with a regular form of social engagement through safety checks, and a friendly neighbor to engage with,” said Mr. Orr. “During the pandemic, the senior center network has risen to the challenge by providing grab-and-go meals, and partnering with community organizations, including police and fire stations, to make deliveries to older adults who are unable to pick them up. Since March 18th, PCA has provided over 110,000 meals through the senior centers.”