Media Archive

Who wants to match a millionaire?

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 12, March 19, 2003

By Carol Higgins
Special to the Observer

R.I. man looking to match each dollar donated to Meals for Me program

Alan Shawn Feinstein, a millionaire from Cranston, R.I., is very interested in Eastern Agency on Aging's nutrition program. Why would someone so far away be concerned with Meals for Me, you ask?

The answer is simple. Feinstein has a goal of ending hunger in the United States. For the past five years he has donated one million dollars annually to agencies across the country that provide food to people in need. His funds are used as a match for monies raised by the organizations between March 1 and April 30. He calls this philanthropic event the Feinstein Challenge.

For the third year in a row. Meals for Me is dng that challenge. All donations that we receive, during March and April, will be eligible " a portion of Feinstein's million. This is a really wonderful thing that he does every year," said Gail Ward, director of nutrition Eastern Agency. "As government funding shrinks and demand for services increases, it is more important than ever before to look to the private sector for help. Last year saw a 17 percent increase in the number of meals served."

For 30 years, Ward has seen the number of donations in the suggested amount of $2.50 per meal actuate depending on the economy. Yet, through good times and bad, every elderly person who desired a meal received one.

"It is definitely difficult sometimes but we would never turn someone away," she said. "We may serve more casseroles in lean times but rest assured all the meals are nutritionally balanced. Less money often means cutting back on some of the special extras."

These extras make a difference. From a decorated cake for a holiday celebration to fresh produce. Meals for Me tries to make lunch something to look forward to for the thousands of seniors it serves.

"Whether the patron is receiving a home delivered meal or is visiting one of our many community dining rooms, we want their lunch to be special," said Ward. "For the home bound, the volunteer delivery driver is often the only human contact that the person will have during the course of a day. In addition to the nutrition of the meal, it is a nice check-in mechanism. And as the fresh air breezes in behind the driver, the patron can get a sense of the outside."

The dining rooms have their own appeal and benefits, said Ward.

"If there was not a dining room for the seniors to come to , a great many of them would be eating lunch alone in front of the TV," she added. "In fact, one woman told me that she used to have a sandwich with Bob Barker everyday. She said how nice it is now to actually have the chance to eat with real people. The dining rooms provide companionship for these people that they might not otherwise have."

This is music to Feinstein's ears. He believes that we are each put on this earth to help those in need. His one million dollars will go a long way toward that end, as the money is divided proportionately among all agencies that take the challenge.

"We hope to raise $8,000 this year, in addition to the regular donations we receive for the meals, which is a bit of a jump from last year," said Ward. "We'd like to expand the program and are in need of some new kitchen equipment. And it is always exciting to see how supportive the community is when we start getting some donations."

If you would like to take the Feinstein Challenge with us, simply make out a check to Meals for Me Challenge and mail to Meals for Me, 450 Essex St., Bangor, ME 04401, or you can deliver your donation to EAA or to your local MfM dining room in Dover-Foxcroft, Dexter, Milo, Greenville, Guilford, Newport, or Brownville Junction.

Carol Higgins is director of communications at Eastern Agency on Aging. For information on EAA services and programs, call the resource and referral department at 1-800-432-7812 or log on

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.