All posts by Michele

17th Annual Bountiful Bowl Raises $42,000

Jamie and familyJ

Jamie Koch and Family- 3rd Annual Bob Wood Legacy Award Winners

Thanks to our sponsors, guests, and supporters for making the 17th Annual Bountiful Bowl successful. This year the event raised $42,000 to subsidize at least 11,351 of the 167,000 meals that we will deliver to our homebound clients this year.

215 guests enjoyed a wonderful evening of camaraderie, great food prepared by Sodexo Dining Services, an open bar and musical entertainment by Roger Latzgo in a beautiful setting at DeSales University. The evening included a silent auction of handcrafted bowls and other treasures as well as gift baskets and gift certificates; libation raffle, and live auction with chef events, sporting events, condo vacation, and flowers for every season.

This year Jamie Koch and her family were honored as the recipients of the Third Annual Bob Wood Legacy Award. This award was created by Bob’s family and Meals on Wheels to be given to someone who exemplifies Bob’s generosity of spirit and care for his community, especially in the area of ensuring that members of our community do not suffer from hunger.

Bob was instrumental in the creation of the Meals on Wheels program and remembered the beginning of the program as an example of how Lehigh County leaders and citizens put into place a program that would ensure that the people who needed home-delivered meals could have full lives. “The program wasn’t just for convenience, but instead helped people to stay in their own homes and be independent.” The Meals on Wheels program, Bob said, “is an example of institutional commitment leveraged by people who want to make a difference.”
Jamie Koch and her family have been integral members of our Meals on Wheels family for 19 years and have all the qualities that make them deserving of this award.

Jamie’s first role with the Agency was as a Board Member because of her expertise as a professional dietician. Her first stint on our Board was extended a year and she became Board president. She is currently serving a second Board term and is on a special Board Committee dedicated to planning the future of Meals on Wheels. She has also served on a number of other committees, including the Bountiful Bowl and Golf Tournament fundraising committees, and spearheaded highly successful anniversary and retirement events. Jamie also worked as a case manager and trained other case managers.

By including her young children in her volunteer work Jamie instilled the values of kindness and sensitivity toward others. The entire Koch family volunteered to work multiple holidays so the staff could have the day off. The family served, cleared and washed dishes at many volunteer recognition dinners. In addition, the Koch children did their own volunteer projects which included delivering meals and recruiting volunteers.

Jamie delivers meals and is one of our superstar volunteer recruiters. She has been delivering meals for most of her 19 years—giving 1,098 hours and driving 14,945 miles. Jamie has recruited many of her friends and neighbors to volunteer with Meals on Wheels. She asks them to get together for lunch, but coyly asks if they would mind delivering meals first. Her standard retirement gift to friends is a volunteer application and a Meals on Wheels name tag!

Thank you to all the members of our community who donated money or items for this event as well as the following:

The Bountiful Bowl Committee: Brooke Griffiths, Co-Chair; Cindy Merritt, Co-Chair; Pat Beldon; Pat Blahnik; Audrey Fronheiser; Pamela Koons-Hartnett; Mary Anne Johnson; Pam Lackman; Rosemarie Lamaestra; Sue McCann; and Mary Pat Stark

Event volunteers: Karen Haberern; Deb Kocher; Hugh & Teri Kelley; Chaudene Michalek; Joy Buckley Reed; Lisa Russo; and Audrey Wallace

Photographer: Marco Calderon

Volunteer auctioneer: Ray Starner


Bountiful Harvest: Dunne Manning, Inc.; The Hartford; The Koch Family; Lehigh Valley Health Network; Olympus; Specialty Physician Associates; and St. Luke’s Physician Group

Media: Network Magazine and The Morning Call

Basket of Plenty: Aesculap, Inc.; BB&T; Pat & Sandy Beldon; Buckno Lisicky & Co.; HCSC Enterprises, Inc.; Doug & Mary Anne Johnson; Liberty Property Trust; The Pidcock Company and PPL Corporation

Cornucopia: Bradley Pulverizer Co; Burkholder’s HVAC; Dun & Bradstreet; Fellowship Community; Health Network Laboratories; Law Office of Mike Santanasto; and Tighe Orthodontics

Choose to “Share the Love” With Vulnerable Seniors

Exciting news! For the tenth year running, the Meals on Wheels network is participating in the Subaru Share the Love Event. In the past nine years, Subaru of America has donated over $12 million to Meals on Wheels—that’s the equivalent of more than 1.7 million meals to seniors across the country!

Why does Subaru support Meals on Wheels? Because too many seniors are struggling to stay independent and healthy. Ten million seniors in America face the threat of hunger, and millions more live alone in isolation. This is simply unacceptable, which is why Mels on Wheels of Lehigh County provides the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to the seniors in our community. This vital support keeps seniors in their own homes, where they want to be.

We’re incredibly grateful to Subaru and its retailers for supporting our organization and the seniors we serve. With that in mind, we thought you might want to learn a little bit more about the Share the Love Event.


November 16, 2017, through January 2, 2018, for every new Subaru vehicle leased or sold, Subaru will donate $250 to the customer’s choice of participating charities. Meals on Wheels America is one of four national participating charities and has been since the inception of the event. Through this campaign, as a Member of Meals on Wheels America, Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County  will receive a share of the revenue earned in Pennsylvania.

If you’re in the market for a new car, please look into the Share the Love Event to learn more. If you’re not shopping for a new vehicle, you can still help by spreading the word to your family and friends. A few quick and easy ways to do that:

– Share this article.
– Share our posts about Share the Love on Facebook: @mealsonwheelsleghihcounty or Twitter: @MOWLehighCounty

And remember – this holiday season, you can ensure our senior neighbors are not forgotten when you buy or lease a new Subaru and select Meals on Wheels America as your charity of choice.

Blizzard Bag Blitz is a Big Success Thanks to Local Companies, Organizations and Individuals

blizzard bag packing day 2016

This year we were able to count on our community to collect enough food to fill 1,200 Blizzard Bags of shelf-stable food items for our clients to use when we can’t deliver meals because of bad weather or another emergency. Last winter we had to cancel meal delivery five times and the winter before that we had to cancel 13 times.

On October 31 volunteers from Olympus and Selective Insurance packed all 1,200 bags in record time–two hours!

Thanks to the packers and the following for collecting food or donating money for our clients’ blizzard bags:

Olympus Corporation Of The Americas
Doug Yingling
Computer Aid, Inc
Meals on Wheels Volunteers
American Bank
Buckeye Partners, L.P.
Buckno Lisicky & Company
Hope UCC Allentown
Joy Reed
Lehigh Valley Health Network
Rooted Salon
Selective Insurance Co.
St. Luke’s School of Nursing
Wacker Chemical Corp
Emmaus Christian Homeschool Co-op
Allied Personnel Services
The Pidcock Company
Lehigh Valley Roller Derby


Thanks to Wells Fargo Foundation for $14,000 Grant

wellsfargocheck 2017

The Wells Fargo Foundation provided a grant of $14,000 to subsidize almost 4,000 meals for our low-income clients. We truly appreciate this support.

Wells Fargo’s believes that its long-term success is directly linked to the success of our customers and the communities they serve. The bank’s philanthropy includes a combination of strategic relationships with local and national nonprofits, grants, volunteer activities, and other community investments, to create solutions that help strengthen the communities in it operates and grow local economies around the world.

Meals On Wheels Of Lehigh, Northampton Counties Urge Legislators To #SaveLunch By Delivering Personal Messages From Homebound Clients


Today Meals on Wheels of Lehigh and Northampton Counties joined local Meals on Wheels programs from across the country in a coordinated paper plate delivery designed to send a powerful message to Congress about the impact of Meals on Wheels. Throughout the week of August 14, home-delivered and congregate meal programs have been delivering stacks of paper plates bearing handwritten notes directly to their Members of Congress, calling for the protection and increase of critical federal funding sources for Meals on Wheels.

The agencies delivered almost 400 paper plates conveying personal messages from the seniors and adults with disabilities the Agency serves to Representative Charlie Dent and Senator Pat Toomey’s staff.

“We know that our clients rely on us and are appreciative of the meals they receive as well as the volunteers who deliver them,” said JoAnn Bergeron Nenow, Executive Director of Meals On Wheels of Northampton County. “But when you read all the heartfelt messages that our clients shared on these plates about how much our program has helped them avoid hunger and stay in their own homes, it’s overwhelming and humbling all at once. We need our legislators to understand the depth of food insecurity that our clients face every day. These plates will help them understand.”

“The paper plates returned to us were filled with poignant messages from our clients,” said Pam Bechtel, Executive Director at Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County. Handwritten on paper plates, the notes collectively tell a story about the Meals on Wheels service and its value — not only providing home-delivered meals but human contact, too. “When our legislators read comments like, ‘Thanks to Meals on Wheels, I won’t starve; I am 92, Meals on Wheels allows me to stay in my home and maintain my independence; It’s especially helpful to me, a single old man without family; I know that the friendly volunteers are checking on me to make sure I am ok’ they can’t help but be reminded that this is a critical service for homebound seniors and adults with disabilities in our community.”

When Congress returns to Washington in September, they will have less than a month to determine federal funding levels for the next Fiscal Year, which begins on October 1. Nenow and Bechtel stated that “at this critical time, when both the need and demand for nutritious meals are substantial and growing, Congress must make the needs of our most vulnerable and isolated seniors a higher priority. Now is the time to tell our Representatives and Senators to save lunch for our clients by protecting and increasing federal funding for Meals on Wheels programs and putting a balanced budget in place.”

The paper plate campaign supports the national #SaveLunch advocacy effort – led by Meals on Wheels America – to urge Congress to #SaveLunch for our nation’s seniors during the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process and make sure that no senior is left hungry and isolated.

Senator Bob Casey Delivers Meals

Senator Bob Casey, Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, met our amazing volunteers and delivered meals to two of our clients.  He was also presented with paper plates full of poignant client messages about the importance of the Meals on Wheels program. Many of these messages included pleas to Congress to protect and increase funding for Meals on Wheels programs.

Here is a link to great photo coverage in The Morning Call:

Executive Director Pam Bechtel to Retire September 1

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Today Executive Director Pam Bechtel announced that she will retire on September 1 after 18 years.

Before joining Meals on Wheels, her experience included 4 years of development and fundraising at two local nonprofits and 22 years as a banking manager.

Her connection to Meals on Wheels started out on a personal level as both of her parents were clients of the Agency.  When the executive director position became available in 1999, she knew it was a great fit.  “When I interviewed for this job, I told the search committee that I knew this was a wonderful service because my parents had been clients for over a year.” Her parents loved seeing the volunteers and developed a very special relationship with them.  Even after her parents passed away, Pam said that she made it her mission ‘to treat each client as she would members of her own family, with kindness, courtesy and dignity. “Fortunately, we have a staff that feels the same way so I know I leave the agency in good hands.”

“When I started, I had no idea how much I would love this job. It has been an incredibly rewarding career.”

“I feel so strongly that good nutrition can make such a significant difference in quality of life and health. I’ve seen it time and time again with our clients. Someone has become stronger and able to be more functional, their blood sugar numbers are better after eating better, they lose weight, they gain weight; they feel better knowing someone is checking on them. Our meal, coupled with other services, helps our clients stay as healthy as possible and in their home longer,” Bechtel said.

“When I first started working at Meals on Wheels, we served about 330 people daily. Now we serve 450 people a day and over 800 each year.  Our population is aging and people want to age in place at home. It feels good to know you are helping them do that.”

“I’m really proud of our program. It’s been a combination of a fantastic staff, amazing volunteers, a committed board and generous donors. It takes a community of people to run an agency.”

Meals on Wheels deliveries are all made by volunteers. “I love our volunteers,” she said. “They are some of the kindest, most dedicated people I have ever met. They brighten the lives of our clients while delivering meals. One client told me that she likes when Monday comes because she likes seeing the volunteers again. The weekends can be long without a visitor.”

Meals on Wheels volunteers provide a well-being check along with the meals. They are often the most reliable contact some of our agency’s clients have. Those visits have literally saved lives.

“One of my favorite things about working here is visiting clients when they turn 100. We’ve had quite a few over the years. I love delivering balloons and a cake and hearing their stories.”

“Delivering meals has also kept me in touch with our clients and has given me a greater appreciation for what the volunteers do. I delivered meals after hurricane Sandy and one client, without power, was sitting in her living room in a big red sweater and blue gloves. When I inquired about her well-being, she said her grandson had brought her a big, hot tea that morning. She told me that she raised three boys and they did a lot of camping as a family so she was used to roughing it!”

Bechtel will continue to help out during the transition as the interim director, Deb Cummins becomes familiar with the role. Deb was the former CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the Lehigh Valley and will be providing leadership consulting as the board reflects and plans its next steps for the future. Deb did some work for the agency last year around mission and vision. She loves the Meals on Wheels mission and is excited to take on this role. Bechtel said: “I’ve known Deb over the years and know she will do a great job.”

“I am going to miss the daily contact with my staff. We’re a pretty close-knit group and we’ve had a lot of fun while we work. That will be a big change for me,” Bechtel says. Like everyone who retires, she has a to-do list and bucket list a mile long. “I plan to volunteer and visit family and friends a lot more often. I’m looking forward to experiencing all that this next phase of my life has to offer.”






We Need You to Ensure Our Clients Have Food When We Can’t Deliver Meals

It is summer but we are starting to prepare for the winter months at Meals on Wheels.

Every year we depend upon our community to collect specific shelf-stable food items like tuna, beef stew, fruit cups and oatmeal so that our clients have food to eat when we can’t deliver.  We need to fill 1,200 “blizzard bags.”

This is a great project for companies, groups, organizations, and individuals who need community service hours. Every bag has to be the same and we need specific items in certain sizes, so we need you to coordinate with our office.

If you are interested in helping, please contact Janelle Longenbach at 610-398-2563 or


Delivering blizzard bags during Hurricane Sandy

Delivering blizzard bags during Hurricane Sandy

Opinion: Impact of Proposed Federal Budget Cuts

By Pamela S. Bechtel, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Lehigh Colunty & JoAnn Nenow, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Northampton County

Our social service safety net is under greater threat than we have seen in recent times. The proposed fiscal year 2018 federal budget includes decreases for sources of funding that support Meals on Wheels programs in the Lehigh Valley and across the country.

These decreases include funding for the Older Americans Act, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid and elimination of the Community Development Block Grant. If these cuts are put in place, private funding sources (such as individual contributions and grants) will have to be stretched even farther to meet the growing need for home-delivered meals for our home-bound neighbors.

Federal funding provides the foundation for the Meals on Wheels nationwide network. Consider these facts: Eight out of ten Meals on Wheels programs receive federal funding in some form. And two out of three of these programs rely on federal funding to cover 1/3 or more of their operating budget.

To meet the need for home-delivered meals, wellness checks and friendly visits to more than 2,400 clients here in the Lehigh Valley, our two Meals on Wheels programs in Lehigh and Northampton counties depend on a combination of federal funding, private donations, state funding and sliding-scale fees.  Now is the time to invest further in this vital public-private partnership to ensure our vulnerable seniors are not forgotten.

Any federal cuts will force Meals on Wheels programs across the country to make tough choices, including the possibility of creating a waiting list for meals, reducing the number of days meals are served or eliminate special diets and preferences. This would be devastating to those who need our program. Our clients cannot cook or shop for themselves and they need home-delivered meals because they have no other way to get the nutritious meals they need to improve their health and well-being. Many of them need special medically tailored meals.

We know that 96 percent of our clients tell us that Meals on Wheels provides them with their main source of food. If we are forced to cut back and serve fewer seniors, these vulnerable at-risk people will be hungry and their health will be compromised. How can we make them wait?

Reductions or even level federal funding will only make matters worse, as the demand for Meals on Wheels is already significant and rapidly growing. One in six seniors struggles with hunger every day, and the senior population is expected to double by 2050.

According to Christine Miccio, Director of Bureau of Aging Services at the PA Department of Aging (PDA), with more than 3.9 million Baby Boomers projected to become eligible for aging services in Pennsylvania by 2020, PDA anticipates the demand for home-delivered meal services will “rise concurrently and become that much more important to helping to ensure that the nutritional and health needs of seniors are adequately met while helping them to age in place in their homes and communities.”

Older Americans Act nutrition programs are already serving 23 million fewer meals today than they were in 2005, due to funding failing to keep pace with an increasing need. And on top of federal funding cuts are state budget cuts, increasing transportation and food costs and the increasing number of nonprofit organizations who are accessing the same donor pools for funding.

At this critical time, when both the need and demand for nutritious meals are substantial and growing, Congress must make the needs of our most vulnerable and isolated seniors a higher priority. Now is the time to tell our Representatives and Senators to save lunch for our clients by protecting and increasing federal funding for Meals on Wheels programs and putting a balanced budget in place.


Highmark Walkers, Donors and Sponsors Raise $18,825

Walk2017team piccompressed

On June 3, 58 hardy walkers braved the rain to participate in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community and raised $18,825 to subsidize 5088 meals for low-income clients.

We appreciate the support of the following major sponsors:

Platinum: TDS Technologies, The Pidcock Company, & The Hartford

Gold: American Bank, Olympus Corporation Of The Americas, Dun & Bradstreet, Country Meadows, Fellowship Community, & Jamie & Tom Koch & family

Silver: Campbell Rappold & Yurasits, LLS Graphics, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Lehigh County Medical Society & Servpro of Easton, Bethlehem & Whitehall

Top 5 individual fundraisers: Joy Reed, Lisa Oldt, Dawn Davis, Michele Grasso and Tracey Huffman

Top 5 teams: Meals on Wheels office, The Pidcock Company, Fellowship Community, The Hartford and Servpro of Easton, Bethlehem & Whitehall.

Volunteer Matt McTish won the Kindle Paperwhite Reader donated as an incentive prize by Joy Reed. Matt graciously donated this prize back to Meals on Wheels to be used as a raffle prize for our Bountiful Bowl fundraising event set for November 10.