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Friday Apr 21
Testimony in support of Meals on Wheels funding (LD 692) Home Office

Today, April 21, our Nutrition Director Karen Wiswell testified before the Health and Human Services Committee. Below is her statement in full, asking for support of LD 692, increasing funding to Meals on Wheels throughout Maine.

Dear Senator Brakey and Representative Hymanson and other members of the Committee on Health and Human Services, my name is Karen Wiswell and I am the Director of Nutrition and Community Center Operations for Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging. I am providing my testimony in support of LD 692, Resolve, To Provide Meals to Homebound Individuals.

For over 44 years, Spectrum Generations has provided Nutrition services such as Meals on Wheels and congregate dining.  All meals are made fresh in our 2 commercial kitchens and delivered by volunteers.  Our We Sustain Maine program, incorporates up to 32% Maine produced foods into the meals; all of which provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances in each meal.  We utilized 410 volunteers who donated 27,703 hours in 2016 to serve and pack meals, to deliver to the local Spectrum Generations community center, and to pick up thermal bags containing all the meals for an entire route.  Our programs run very lean and efficiently.  Every Area Agency on Aging makes a strong effort to have the recipient pay for a portion of their meal.  At Spectrum Generations, it is a recommended donation of $4.00 however our average donation amount is $0.46 per meal. 

The meals we deliver to our consumers are a life line – a meal, a check-in, and a friendly visit.  We’ve passed you personal notes written on plates from people on our program and in the communities you may represent, in order to show the impact that these meals make to our consumers.  10 years ago, Spectrum Generations delivered 184,394 meals.  Since then, the need has continued to rise; by 40,099 meals to be exact.  In 2016, 1,665 individuals received at total of 224,493 home delivered meals. 

In those 10 years, state and federal funds for Meals on Wheels have remained fairly flat. The annual budget for Spectrum Generations Meals on Wheels program totaled $1.1 million in 2016. Of this, 32.6% was raised individually by Spectrum Generations and its supporters; a total of $362,243.

In order to deliver more meals to meet the surging need, all five of Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging have engaged in more and more fundraising opportunities. In 2016, the sum total was $1,060,263. These efforts include United Way campaigns, municipal funding requests, partnerships with for-profit businesses such as Darling’s Auto Group or Evergreen Subaru, large private fundraising events such as the Sukeforth Family Festival of Trees and the Celebrity Chef Dinner, and small events such as baked bean cook-off’s, bake sales, bottle drives, and awareness walks. 

There is currently a waitlist for recipients of Meals on Wheels in more than half the state.  In order to provide the necessary meals for this vulnerable population, I urge you to pass LD 692.    

Thank you for your time,

Karen Wiswell

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