March for Meals helps homebound Seniors

The 4th Annual March for Meals & Pie Auction was held March 22nd at the Kenai Senior Center and according to Activity/Volunteer Coordinator Carol Bannock the Center was as busy as a beehive preparing for the event, “Although activity is always abundant at the Center, the activity was centered around a plethora of volunteers decorating, arranging tables, displaying auction items, creating gift baskets and bringing pies to the center.” March For Meals is an annual campaign designed to raise awareness of senior hunger and to encourage action at the local level. Senior Nutrition Programs across the United States promote March For Meals in their communities through public events, partnerships with local businesses, volunteer recruitment efforts and fundraising initiatives, explained Kenai Senior Center executive director Rachael Craig, “It happens every March so that no senior goes hungry and we are part of the national Meals on Wheels association and we provide home meals to shut in or homebound elder seniors so they have a hot meal daily,” Craig told the Dispatch in an interview.

Each year the Kenai Senior Center is responsible for delivering almost 30,000 meals to homes of elderly homebound individuals residing in the greater Kenai area. While grants are available to cover some of the costs, it is because of matching funds and private donations that this program is able to stay in place for those who most depend on it; homebound seniors. The majority of individuals who benefit from the Meals on Wheels program are at poverty income levels and we’ve seen a steady increase in the local need for the last four to five years she explained.

Joe Jolly is the president of the Senior Connection the fund raising arm for the Center that put a lot of effort into selling tickets and getting balloon pops and auction items donated, “We have a lot of fun and 100% of the proceeds from this event went directly to our Meals on Wheels program. Our goal is to add a 2nd van to our already heavily laden, two route delivery program,” said Jolly. This year March for Meals celebrates the 41st Anniversary of the inclusion of Senior Nutrition Programs in the Older Americans Act. In March of 1972, President Nixon signed into law a new Title of the Act that laid the groundwork for more than 5,000 Senior Nutrition Programs.

The sell out crowd enjoyed a filet mignon steak dinner with all the trimmings, music by Bull Don and the Moose Nuggets and celebrity auctioneer Duane Bannock. “The Kenai Senior Connection Inc. and the Kenai Senior Center would like to thank the more than 50 some corporate sponsors, businesses, organizations, volunteers, pie and cookie bakers for their generous support and donations and helping keep our Meals on Wheels program going and growing,” said Carol Bannock.