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Meals on Wheels installs two new stoves

MADAWASKA, Maine — Elderly St. John Valley residents who rely on the Meals on Wheels program to provide them with a daily nutritious meal can be assured the service will continue thanks to an abundance of donations from the public.

In January, Meals on Wheels requested help from the community to purchase a new stove to replace an aged and broken model used to prepare hot lunches for seniors. A second stove was still functional but also falling apart.

In January, Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times published a story documenting the non-profit program’s need for financial assistance to purchase a new stove. A Meals on Wheels employee’s daughter set up a GoFund Me page to raise money for the program and organizers held a Valentine’s Day 50/50 raffle.

Due to an outpouring of financial support for the Meals on Wheels program totalling more than $14,000, organizers purchased not one, but two brand new industrial size gas stoves, according to Meals on Wheels Director Dottie Sines.

Kitchen manager Barbara Deschaine prepares food on the old commercial stove at the Madawaska Senior Center in this January file photo. When the Area Agency on Aging reached out for help from the community to replace worn out equipment used to make nutritious food for the Meals on Wheels program, they had no idea how positive the response would be from the public. (SJVT/FhF file photo | Don Eno)

“People from different parts of the country were sending us money because they either had folks that lived here or they came from the St. John Valley originally,” she said. “Publicity works.”

Sines put to good use money left over after purchasing the stoves.

“It helped me get a little bit out of the red for my actual food costs, which was a wondrous thing. I also ended up using some of that for another piece of equipment we really needed to replace in the kitchen. (All the money raised) stayed right there in The Valley,” Sines said.

The local Meals on Wheels program serves 125-200 people in a day, Towns served by the meal service include Fort Kent, St. Agatha, Frenchville, St. David and Madawaska. Meals on Wheels drivers enter each home Monday through Friday and are required to make eye contact with each client.

“I’m thankful for the generosity of people that care about the seniors in The County,” Sines said. “We’re doing our best to take care of them and with a little bit of help every now and again … it makes a tremendous amount of difference.”

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