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Nutrition Assistance: Additional Efficiencies Could Improve Services to Older Adults

GAO-11-782T Published: Jun 21, 2011. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 2011.
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This testimony discusses our recent work on food insecurity among older adults and the nutrition assistance programs available to assist them, including nutrition assistance programs authorized under the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA). This work can help inform government policymakers as they address the needs of one of our nation's most vulnerable populations while ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of federal programs given rapidly building fiscal pressures facing our national government. While the economy is still recovering and in need of careful attention, widespread agreement exists on the need to look not only at the near term but also at steps that begin to change the long-term fiscal path as soon as possible without slowing the recovery. Our recent work can help with this by identifying potential inefficiency and overlap among programs. At the same time, there is recognition that the services provided by the OAA can play an important role in helping older adults remain in their homes and communities. As the Congress takes steps to address the fiscal challenge, it will be important that these steps are balanced with efforts to ensure the health and well-being of older adults. This testimony today is based on two recent reports, our April 2010 report on domestic food assistance and our February 2011 report on the unmet need for services under the OAA. This testimony highlights key findings from each of these reports related to (1) the prevalence of food insecurity and the receipt of nutrition services among older adults; and (2) the extent to which nutrition assistance programs show signs of inefficiency or overlap. This statement will discuss some of the challenges related to ensuring the most efficient provision of services, and suggest how better information could help policymakers address overlap and duplication among programs while ensuring those most in need have access to services..

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Administrative costsData collectionDisadvantaged personsEconomic analysisElderly personsEligibility criteriaFederal agenciesFederal aid programsFederal aid to localitiesFederal aid to statesstate relationsFood programs for the elderlyFood relief programsFood servicesFood supplyFunds managementHome health care servicesLocal governmentsLocally administered programsMalnutritionMeals and refreshmentsMonitoringNeeds assessmentProgram evaluationPublic assistance programsState-administered programsAdministrative proceduresDuplication of effortNutritionProgram goals or objectives