Senior Beat

Help end hunger by participating in this year’s Feinstein Challenge

Posted March 11, 2014, at 10:36 a.m.

We are taking the Feinstein Challenge again this year. Just look at what your donations to Eastern Area Agency on Aging helped us do last year in the nutrition department; we delivered 71,177 meals, served 39,750 Community Café meals, and distributed 189,563 pounds of food through Pantry Partners and the Senior Food Bank.

We hope you will be a part of the challenge with us. Alan Shawn Feinstein, a multimillionaire from Cranston, R.I., has a plan that 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 million 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.”

All donations that we receive during March and April will be eligible for a percentage of his $1 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 to grasp every fundraising opportunity we can. The number of seniors who want or need meals increases every year,” he said.

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 that 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 are visiting one of our many cafes, we want their lunch to be special,” Crone said.

“And if there was not a Community Cafe for the seniors to come to, 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,” Crone said.

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 money is divided proportionately among all of the agencies that take the challenge nationwide.

The amount raised by each agency, nutrition program, or food bank dictates the amount of the match. It’s not a 100 percent match, but it helps bring people make their dollars stretch.

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 eaaa.org by clicking the DONATE NOW button, scrolling to Additional Information, and choosing Feinstein Challenge.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of community education at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. For information, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, or visit  eaaa.org.

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