Feinstein Challenge helps local donations to stretch further

Posted March 27, 2012, at 3:55 p.m.

Be a part of the “match” because getting more than you pay for has never been easier. Alan Shawn Feinstein, a multimillionaire from Cranston, R.I., has a plan which will make donations to Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s Community Cafes or Meals on Wheels go even further to help seniors.

Feinstein has a goal of ending hunger in the United States, so for more than a decade he has donated $1,000,000 annually to organizations across the country that provide food to people in need. His funds are used as a match for monies raised by the food programs between March 1 and April 30. He calls this philanthropic event the Feinstein Challenge.

EAAA is taking that challenge. All donations that we receive, during March and April, will be eligible for a small portion of Feinstein’s million.

“This is a really wonderful thing that he does every year,” said Rob Crone, director of nutrition services at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. “As government funding shrinks and demand for services increases, it’s more important than ever before grasp every fundraising opportunity we can. The number of seniors who want or need meals increases every year.”

Since the beginning of the nutrition program, donations have not really paid the freight on the meals but even in the worst of times every elderly person who desired a meal received one.

“It is definitely difficult sometimes but we don’t turn people away if we can help it,” he said. “And all the meals are nutritionally balanced to meet one-third of the recommended daily allowance of nutrients so seniors can be sure that they are getting at least one well-balanced meal a day.”

Times are hard and, with food costs soaring, seniors are apt to eat the cheapest fare possible, often sweets and junk food, which is typically all they can afford, instead of the pricier but more nutritious foods. EAAA’s nutrition program fills in the gap with highly nutritious meals that taste great and are easy to prepare. Just heat and eat.

The Community Cafes give seniors a special place to go where they can talk with friends their own ages, catch up on town gossip and solve the world’s problems. Birthdays are celebrated and bonds are formed.

“Whether the patrons are receiving home delivered meals or is visiting one of our many cafes, we want their lunch to be special,” he said. “And if there was not a Community Cafe for the seniors to come to come, a great many of them would be eating lunch alone in front of the TV. The cafes provide companionship for these people that they might not otherwise have.”

Feinstein believes that we are each put on this earth to help those in need, and his $1 million will go a long way toward that end. His million is divided proportionately among all of the agencies that take the challenge. The amount raised by each agency, nutrition program, or food bank, dictates the amount of the match. It is nowhere near a 100 percent match but it helps bring people together and make their dollars stretch.

“We hope to raise $20,000 this year,” said Crone. “It is always exciting to see how supportive the community is when we start getting donations and of course, all donations are tax deductible.”

If you’d like to take the Feinstein Challenge, make out a check to Feinstein Challenge and mail to EAAA, 450 Essex St., Bangor, ME 04401, or you can deliver your donation to EAAA or your local Community Cafe. You may also donate on line at www.eaaa.org.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email info@eaaa.org or visit http://www.EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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