A welcome visit: McGovern drops in on local Meals on Wheels

  • Lynne Feldman of LifePath and Meals on Wheels site manager Charlie Cornish talk with Congressman James McGovern in the Millers Falls facility in the old Renovators Supply complex on Wednesday. March 28 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Lynne Feldman of LifePath and Meals on Wheels site manager Charlie Cornish talk with Congressman James McGovern in the Millers Falls facility in the old Renovators Supply complex on Wednesday. March 28 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Congressman James McGovern toured the LifePath Meals on Wheels facility in Millers Falls before delivering a meal to Ethel Dobias in Greenfield on Wednesday. March 28 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Ethel Dobias, 86, of Greenfield talks with Congressman Jim McGovern. McGovern toured the LifePath Meals on Wheels facility in Millers Falls before delivering a meal to Dobias on Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • 86 year old Ethel Dobias of Greenfield pauses as she tells Congressman James McGovern about her late husband in her home on Wednesday. McGovern toured the LifePath Meals on Wheels facility in Millers Falls before delivering a meal to Dobias. March 28 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/28/2018 7:49:32 PM

ERVING — Though Meals on Wheels may lose some funding at the hands of the Trump administration, the meal delivery program clearly has a friend in Congressman Jim McGovern.

The Worcester Democrat joined local nonprofit LifePath on a tour of Erving’s Meals on Wheels kitchen Wednesday in a show of support for the service after the Trump administration announced it may eliminate money for a program that partially funds Meals on Wheels.

The administration announced a blueprint budget earlier this month that would cut funding for the Community Development Block Grant program.

In addition to McGovern’s kitchen tour — his first visit to the Erving location — he also accompanied a volunteer to deliver meals to nearby seniors. Before his visit to Erving, he visited Green River House in Greenfield, which provides rehabilitative vocational, social and recreational programming to adults living with mental challenges.

Respect earned

McGovern joined LifePath Director of Community Services Lynne Feldman and Kitchen Manager Charlie Cornish in the kitchen as the crew was cleaning up from the morning’s work. He thanked the volunteers for their hard work and reiterated why Meals on Wheels is so important to the community and the country.

“Programs like this represent the best of our community,” McGovern said. “They give seniors the respect they’ve earned and deserve.”

“We’re very passionate about it,” Feldman said.

McGovern highlighted the importance of the program providing not only nutrition, but companionship and check-ins for lonely seniors.

“I’m a big fan,” he said. “This is a success story in every way, and it needs to be continued and expanded.”

After his tour of the kitchen, McGovern accompanied a volunteer to deliver a meal to 86-year-old Ethel Dobias of Greenfield. After he put away her food, he sat with her on the couch and talked with her. She became emotional during the chat, expressing how she was so delighted that someone had come to visit her.

Meals on Wheels

LifePath’s Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers bring a hot meal and a wellness check to about 500 seniors per day in Franklin County and Athol, Petersham, Royalston and Philipston in Worcester County.

The Erving branch of Meals on Wheels has 55 volunteers who drive 30 routes to deliver meals five days a week. Frozen meals are also available to give to seniors who can’t cook for themselves over the weekend.

According to Feldman, 71 percent of seniors say the delivered meal is their main meal of the day. Seventy-nine percent of seniors also report that the volunteer drivers make them feel less lonely, and 85 percent of seniors who receive the meals say it helps them feel better.

Nutrition has been shown to help prevent re-hospitalization in seniors, said Feldman. In addition to receiving a healthy meal, Feldman said, the program is important because it offers much-needed socialization for seniors who may live alone and rarely receive visitors.

“For some people, the driver is the only person they see that day,” she said.

Volunteer drivers have also been able to check up on seniors and notify the police if they don’t answer the door.

The annual Meals on Meals Walkathon plays a large part in the funding of the local program; without this extra money, a waitlist-free program wouldn’t be able to be offered. According to Feldman, federal and state funds are not enough to meet the “real need,” and elders who are put on waiting lists for the program are more likely to be depressed, lonely and malnourished.

This year’s annual Walkathon will be held April 28 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at 101 Munson St. in Greenfield.

“The people who get these meals have raised our families, worked in factories, and possibly fought in wars,” McGovern said. “They are the essence of this community.”

Reach Christie Wisniewski at: cwisniewski@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280


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