Agency on Aging launches March for Meals fundraiser
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook Agency on Aging is participating in the 21st annual March for Meals – a month-long, nationwide celebration of Meals on Wheels and older people who rely on this essential service to remain healthy and independent at home, now even more so amid a lingering pandemic and high inflation
. The Agency will raise funds throughout the month of March, to help meet the increasing demand for food that has outpaced government financial support for home delivered meal services.
“Through the pandemic, all regions of Maine saw significant growth in demand for home-delivered meals. In the year prior to COVID, in our county approximately 225 older adults were provided with over 54.000 meals. During the pandemic, that number more than doubled with approximately two-thirds of new consumers qualifying by pre-pandemic eligibility standards. In the last fiscal year, Aroostook Agency on Aging continued to see strong need for the program with 108,813 meals delivered to an average of 467 people each month; a 100 percent increase over pre-COVID levels,” said Joy Barresi Saucier, executive director of Aroostook Agency on Aging.
“We have been in awe of the outpouring of support so far, and there’s still much we can do to ensure everyone in need of our vital lifeline can benefit from being well-nourished and more connected to our community through this challenging time and beyond,” she added.
According to Barresi Saucier, contributions from the community make the program highly cost efficient. “Last year, 78 Northern Maine volunteers contributed almost 4,000 hours of service to the program. Valued at approximately $107,000, this volunteer time exceeded the total amount contributed to the program through either state funding or regular Older Americans Act funding,” she said. “Our agency,” the director added, “must also raise corporate, individual, foundation, and municipal donations to support this vital program.”
The annual March for Meals celebration commemorates the historic day in March of 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. This critical support and federal funding has fueled the growth of the Meals on Wheels network for more than 50 years.
During the month, Aroostook’s community-based Meals on Wheels program joins others from across the country for the annual awareness campaign to celebrate this successful public-private partnership and garner the resources needed to reach every older adult in need of a nutritious meal, friendly visit, and safety check.
Aroostook Agency on Aging, as part of its own 50th anniversary year, has launched a local fund drive to support the home-delivered meals program for qualifying consumers in northern Maine. Currently, demand for nutrition services is outpacing financial support.
“Your donation today will make an immediate impact as there are older adults in Aroostook who qualify for meals but do not receive them due to funding shortfalls. Your generous support makes a meaningful difference — not only will your neighbors receive nutritious food, but also a regular visit from a friendly volunteer who makes sure they are safe and doing well,” Barresi Saucier said.
For more information on how you can make a pledge to March for Meals, please visit www.aroostookaging.org and click the “Donate” button or call the Agency at 207-764-3396 or toll free at 1-800-439-1789. There is also information on the website to find out how you might volunteer your skills and time to package and/or deliver Meals on Wheels.
The mission of the Aroostook Agency on Aging is to improve the quality of life and promote the well-being of older people in our communities. Since 1973, the agency has served as a resource, helping people to access information and services, while also advocating to assure the rights we all value are respected.