McKeesport area mayors lend a hand at Meals on Wheels
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 4:31 a.m.
Area mayors gathered in McKeesport on Wednesday for a taste of what Meals on Wheels offers in their communities.
Operated by Lutheran Service Society, Meals on Wheels hosted its fifth annual Mayors for Meals Day in its kitchen and distribution center at First United Methodist Church of McKeesport. With hot meal service five days a week, the center's volunteers cook and deliver food for elderly and shut-in residents of McKeesport, White Oak, Duquesne, Dravosburg and parts of West Mifflin.
“This is a day to focus on our mayors,” said Michele Taylor, a community service representative for the Lutheran Service Society and program manager for Meals on Wheels. “It's a day to invite the mayors and other community leaders to see what Meals on Wheels volunteers are doing in their community.”
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, White Oak Mayor Ina Jean Marton, Duquesne Mayor Phil Krivacek, Port Vue Mayor Brien Hranics and Glassport Mayor Michael Evanovich were among those in the assembly line scooping meat, potatoes and other sides into portioned packages they delivered to households in their hometowns.
“Seeing is believing,” Hranics said. “We are seeing the needs of our communities firsthand, and we can address it.”
Marton said residents rely on the kindness of volunteers who take time to provide affordable, nutritious meals.
“We see the goodness of people every time we are here,” Marton said. “These are people from our communities helping their neighbors.”
With Pennsylvania ranked 38th in the United States for food insecurity among senior citizens, Lutheran Service Society's Geoff Zak said area officials should know Meals on Wheels is community dependent in terms of volunteers and sponsorship.
“There are so many people who give of their hearts, time and talent to make Meals on Wheels possible,” Zak said. “A volunteer can be anyone with something to give, whether that's working in the kitchen, delivering meals, graphic design, marketing or making presentations in the community.”
Cherepko thanked the volunteers who give of their daily lives to serve others.
“This is my second year taking part in the Mayors for Meals Day,” he said. “I'm so impressed with how our local Meals on Wheels operates. These volunteers are dedicated. They're organized. It's absolutely amazing.”
The Rev. Bruce Mounts, pastor of Amity Presbyterian Church in Dravosburg, who has helped with Meals on Wheels since 1974, said volunteers are the key to the program's success.
“We are helping people live independently,” Mounts said. “We are bringing healthy food and making personal connections, while allowing people to save money by living in their own homes.”
Information about Meals on Wheels is available online at www.lsswpa.org/programs/meals-wheels. Anyone interested in cooking or delivering meals in McKeesport and surrounding communities can call Rose Marshall at 412-672-1998.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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