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.