Pennsylvania Department of Aging Acting Secretary Robert Torres attended Berks Encore's Meals on Wheels Champions Day celebration during Community Champions Week when local Meals on Wheels programs invite local, state, and federal officials, local celebrities and community figures to deliver meals, speak on behalf of seniors, and raise awareness about the program.
Acting Secretary Torres discussed the importance of home-delivered meals with Mike Faust, radio host of WEEU 830AM, who broadcast live throughout the event, which also featured exercise classes and blood bank donations. Following his interview, Acting Secretary Torres departed Berks Encore with volunteers in their designated Meals on Wheels Subaru to deliver meals to local seniors.
Director of Marketing & Communications for Berks Encore Lori Gerhart emphasized that while the Champions Day celebration is about raising awareness for Meals on Wheels, it's just as much an acknowledgment of and thank you to the program's volunteers.
"Without dedicated volunteers, our home-delivered meal programs could not be as effective as we know they are," said Acting Secretary Torres. "Their commitment to serving seniors is remarkable and I'm honored to meet with and assist them in their efforts."
Program volunteers were able to share stories about how they started volunteering on WEEU 830AM's broadcast, in addition to answering volunteer inquiries and encouraging others to get involved. Additionally, Berks Encore shared with WEEU listeners the many activities available at the senior center.
Our nation's senior population is growing fast – Meals on Wheels America anticipates that it will nearly double by 2060. This quickly rising number means more and more seniors will be at risk of facing hunger and isolation issues. One in four seniors lives alone, and while the threat of hunger and isolation is a concern for any senior with limited mobility and declining health, some are also facing financial strain.
Pennsylvania's aging services network strives to combat those factors year-round by providing seniors with options through in-home meal services, free meals available at senior centers across the commonwealth, and through other essential benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Pennsylvania Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
March 2019 marks the 17th annual March for Meals celebration by Meals on Wheels America, a month-long community collaborative focused on the health and needs of seniors. Meals on Wheels America encourages those celebrating to use the month of March to volunteer, host a fundraising event, or advocate the importance of their services via social media.
In fiscal year 2017-18, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and its network of Area Agencies on Aging provided approximately 9 million home-delivered and congregate meals.
To learn more about the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, visit www.aging.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Drew Wilburne, 717-705-3702