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Celebrating March For Meals Month With Greater Springfield Senior Services, Inc.

Celebrating Senior Nutrition Programs

On Friday, March 22, Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) Acting Secretary Robin Lipson, and a team from EOEA traveled to the city of Springfield to spend the day with Greater Springfield Senior Services, Inc. (GSSSI) to mark March For Meals Month. Each year in March, Meals on Wheels programs throughout the country celebrate this enormously successful senior nutrition program that provides much more than food to older adults throughout the nation.

The Baker-Polito Administration has proposed a $2.4 million dollar increase in its FY20 budget submission. The funding will maintain nutritional quality and provide an estimated 290,000 additional meals.

Our visit to Springfield coincided with the 47th anniversary of the signing of legislation that led to the creation of the national senior nutrition program, commonly referred to as Meal on Wheels. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs, along with 27 local nutrition programs throughout the state, serve 9.1 million nutritionally balanced meals to about 75,000 older residents each year. In addition to home-delivery, meals are also provided at more than 325 congregate meal sites across Massachusetts.

Our first stop of the day was a tour with Richard Krause, the manager/chef at C.W. Resources kitchen, a non-profit that prepares and packages more than 1,000 meals a day that are delivered by Greater Springfield Senior Services, Inc.

In addition to preparing and packaging daily meals, the facility also prepares and stores "shelf-stable" food for situations where food cannot be refrigerated or heated, such as during a power outage.

In addition to preparing nutritious meals, C.W. Resources has also become a welcoming employer for people living with disabilities, refugees and other residents in the Springfield area.

The kitchen is well equipped and was very busy when we visited around 9 a.m., just as many drivers were arriving to pick-up their meals to deliver.

The pride and passion that the staff have for their work supporting the needs of older residents was evident in every person we met.

"It truly was a pleasure meeting Richard and his coworkers, to see firsthand the incredible operation they run to ensure that older residents have the healthy, nutritious, food they need to remain in the community." -- Robin Lipson

Next step in the process is for delivery drivers to take the prepared, packaged, meals and load them into coolers to deliver to each person on their assigned route.

On the day we visited Springfield, Robin was honored to ride along with Nancy Piquette for a portion of her route. Nancy has been delivering meals for GSSSI since 2011 and, depending on the day, can make between 35 and 50 visits.

Robin had a chance to meet with Nancy and some of her clients who have become friends since Nancy began delivering meals for GSSSI in 2011.

She brought sunshine on a rainy day...

"The connection that Nancy Piquette has with each person she delivers food to is amazing. She has become more than someone just delivering a meal, she's become a friend. She knows about their health, their family and even their pets. For some people, she's the only person they will interact with that day and each person is treated with kindness and dignity. She is an example of the enormous value of the senior nutrition and Meals on Wheels Programs that goes well beyond food." -- Robin Lipson
Next we visited the Clodo Conception Community Center, where we helped serve lunch for about 75 guests and took part in a "March For Meals" celebration.

Scenes From Springfield Senior Services March For Meals Celebration

GSSSI and the City of Springfield organized a wonderful meal and celebration for the Meals on Wheels program, as well as their longstanding partnership in serving the needs of older adults in the city. A team from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs was pleased to join Mayor Domenic Sarno, Peter Schmidt, GSSSI's Board President, Sandy Federico, Springfield's Director of Elder Services, and many others as we celebrated 47 years of progress in senior nutrition.

Thank you Greater Springfield Senior Services

Our final stop of the day was a visit to the offices of Greater Springfield Senior Services, Inc. to meet with staff, get an update on their work and talk about issues of concern to older residents in the Springfield area. GSSSI is one of 26 regional, non-profit, elder services agencies that coordinate and provide a range of important services that allow older adults to age with dignity in the community. Everything from nutrition, to home care services, caregiver support programs, protective services and more. They are our partners and a critical part of one of the strongest aging services networks in the country. Thank you to the team at GSSSI, and our municipal colleagues with the City of Springfield for an inspiring day.

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