All posts by Michele


On Friday, March 23, Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County held its annual Community Champions delivery day with local government, business and other leaders in honor of the 2018 March for Meals Community Champions Week. Across the country this week, Meals on Wheels programs have enlisted elected officials, local celebrities and other prominent figures to deliver meals, speak out for seniors and raise awareness for the power of Meals on Wheels.

The services that we provide the seniors of Lehigh County are critical and the need is rapidly increasing.  With the help of our volunteers and donors, we can keep seniors living independently, healthier at home and feeling more connected to their community as they age. We appreciate the participation of the individuals who have agreed to become one of our Meals on Wheels Community Champions and bring awareness to our program. They met the people we serve who benefit from our service and got a first-hand experience of the logistics involved in delivering to 460 people every day.

The annual March for Meals commemorates the historic day in March 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 and established a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. Since 2002, Meals on Wheels programs from across the country have joined forces for the annual awareness campaign to celebrate this successful public-private partnership and garner the support needed to fill the gap between the seniors served and those still in need.

“This March, hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs will rally their communities to build the support that will enable them to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to America’s most at-risk seniors all year long,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “With the demand for Meals on Wheels increasing along with our country’s senior population, we need to ensure that seniors are not forgotten.”

Thanks to the following “community champions” who joined our regular champion volunteers and board members who delivered meals on March 23:

Phillips Armstrong, LC Executive

Jeanne McNeill, State Representative

Ryan Mackenzie, State Representative

Mike Schlossberg, State Representative

Pete Schweyer, State Representative

Ronald Conrad, Mayor of Macungie

Walter Niedermeyer, Mayor of Slatington

Tori Morgan, S. Whitehall Commissioner

Alta Mercado, Senator Pat Browne’s office

Jose Soto, Senator Pat Browne’s office

Carmen Bell, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley

Megan Briggs, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

Carol Saegar, Just Born Quality Confections

Megan Dowd, Just Born Quality Confections

Suzanne Colligas, Owner Colligas Family Markets

Herb Klotz, Allentown West Rotary Club





Arlington, VA, March 1, 2018 – Today marks the beginning of the 16th Annual March for Meals – a month-long, community-by-community celebration of Meal on Wheels and the vulnerable seniors who rely on the vital service to remain independent at home. This annual awareness and action campaign is coordinated each year by Meals on Wheels America.

“This March, hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs will rally their communities to build the support that will enable them to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to America’s most at-risk seniors all year long,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “With the demand for Meals on Wheels increasing along with our country’s senior population, we need to ensure that seniors are not forgotten.”

The annual March for Meals commemorates the historic day in March 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 and established a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. Since 2002, Meals on Wheels programs from across the country have joined forces for the annual awareness campaign to celebrate this successful public-private partnership and garner the support needed to fill the gap between the seniors served and those still in need.

The annual campaign gives the local businesses, organizations, governments and volunteers who contribute so generously in their communities an opportunity to support homebound seniors in a variety of ways to make America stronger and healthier. For more information on how to find a celebration near you, visit

Meals on Wheels Celebrates its 47th Anniversary

This month Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County celebrates its 47th year serving homebound seniors and adults with disabilities living in Lehigh County. In 1970, a group of concerned citizens learned about an elderly couple almost starving to death in their Allentown home because they couldn’t cook or shop and had no family to do this for them. This group vowed that this kind of situation would never happen again and founded our Agency after 9 months of planning.

On February 1, 1971 6 volunteers delivered meals to 9 seniors on 3 routes; today we serve up to 470 clients each weekday on 33 routes. Our recent survey shows that for 69% of our clients, our volunteer is the only person they see all day; for 36% the volunteer is the only person they see all week. Our service is much more than providing nutritious and medically tailored meals. The daily visit by a caring volunteer provides a social connection to avert loneliness and a check on the wellbeing of our clients. This visit is often the highlight of the day for our homebound.

Thank you to our founders as well as our volunteers, donors and other community supporters who ensure that we will continue to meet the need for home-delivered meals, wellbeing checks and friendly visits in 2018 and in the future.

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

pamheadshot 003

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.”