Since 1989, the kettles at LifeCare Alliance have prepared an estimated 30 million meals. They are now held together by duct tape and require costly repairs, officials said.
According to president and CEO Chuck Gehring, replacement parts for the kettles are no longer manufactured. It will cost the organization $180,000 to replace three kettles.
Earlier this year, an anonymous donor stepped up to address the problem. The donor made a challenge. He pledged $90,000 toward purchasing three upgraded kettles if the public could raise the rest.
Gehring said the challenge was to raise $180,000 in 180 days, including the donor’s pledge. One hundred eleven private citizens and 11 corporate donors raised $158,000 as of August.
LifeCare Alliance must raise an additional $30,000 by Sept. 30 to meet the challenge.
According to Michelle Jones, communication director for LifeCare Alliance, the kettles produce approximately 6,000 meals per day. The organization supplies meals to 15,000 clients who are unable to leave their homes.
Gehring said they are one of the five largest Meals on Wheels providers in the country and the only one to serve meals on weekends.
The kettles allow their cooks to control the fat, sodium and sugar content of each meal, he said. It is less costly than purchasing meals from a third party and allows them to create a variety of menu items.
“It’s critical they be given a meal that fits their dietary needs. Seventy percent of our clients are diabetic. We also serve those with cancer, AIDS and other food restrictions,” Gehring said.
Jones said the success of the campaign will measure LifeCare Alliance’s ability to be cost effective in meal production.
“(This) is an investment that will last more than two decades,” Gehring said.
He said the new kettles will produce 7,821 more meals each year.
To donate to the Kettle Match Challenge, visit www.kettlematchchallenge2012.org or mail contributions to Andrea Albanese Denning, vice president of advancement at LifeCare Alliance, at 1699 W. Mound St., Columbus, Ohio,43223.