AARP Oklahoma’s advocacy efforts led to the restoration of $5 million for senior nutrition program funding. The funding restoration came despite a state budget deficit of $1.2 billion.
In October, 2009, the Department of Human Services cut nearly 30% of funding for senior nutrition programs, which includes home delivered meals and meals served at nutrition sites because of declining state revenues.
The $5 million restored due to an eight-month-long efforts on the part of AARP will:
- Provide for an additional 757,501 meals
- Reopen 7 sites
- Restore serving at 74 sites to five days per week
- See the return of 141 nutrition site staff to full hours
In November, 2009, AARP organized a rally at the State Capitol to urge state leaders to restore the funding cuts. Volunteers handed out empty paper plates to the more than 400 people who attended. Volunteers also asked attendees to sign the plates and send them to legislators and the governor to illustrate the 780,000 hot meals that would be lost.
AARP Oklahoma State President Marjorie Lyons said, “Without a daily hot meal, many of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable and frail residents will no longer be able to live independently in their own homes.”
Advocacy efforts continued in 2010 with volunteers and chapters sending hundreds of empty paper plates to state leaders. The highlight of AARP’s 2010 Lobby Day at the Capitol came when an agreement on senior nutrition program funding by legislative leaders was reached.
AARP Oklahoma used an integrated grassroots and media campaign involving volunteers, media, digital communications (YouTube and Twitter), and lobbying at the state capitol.