Newsstand » Mario Andretti delivers food, hugs with Meals on Wheels of Northampton County

Mario Andretti delivers food, hugs with Meals on Wheels of Northampton County



Mario Andretti delivers for Meals on Wheels on March 18, 2014Racing legend Mario Andretti was greeted by workers at the Meals on Wheels of Northampton County facility where about 1,800 meals are made each day before heading out to make deliveries on March 18, 2014.

Tatamy resident Brenda Tigar has been a fan of Mario Andretti since growing up in Nazareth. She said she would go to the parades held in his honor when he would win a big race.

Today, the auto racing legend brought her lunch.

“I can’t believe it,” said Tigar, who was Andretti’s second stop on his volunteer rounds withMeals on Wheels ofNorthampton County. “He made this long winter short.”

Andretti, of Bushkill Township, was among area well-known residents and business leaders taking part in the local Meals on Wheels Community Champions Week. Alongside his volunteer driver, Nick Lopano,he made deliveries in Plainfield Township and Tatamy in a Nissan Murano.

The 74-year-old arrived at the county Meals on Wheels headquarters in Bethlehem Township for a brief tour of the kitchens directed by Executive Director JoAnn Nenow.

She said it felt great for the organization to have Andretti helping to deliver the meals.

Andretti has delivered meals with Firestone Complete Auto Care, which supports Meals on Wheels Association of America, but today was his first time delivering with the Northampton County Meals on Wheels, Nenow said.

He said he welcomed the opportunity, saying it’s a rewarding experience.

“It’s a valuable program that a lot depend on,” he said. “It’s heartwarming.”

He said most of the people who receive Meals on Wheels don’t have much interaction with other people during the day.

The Meals on Wheels volunteers are more than just the people who bring their food, he said, and many will offer to sit down and talk with them while they have their meal.

Around 10:20 a.m., Andretti and Lopano grabbed their route’s cooler and warm bag, and loaded up for their stops.

At the first stop of the day, he asked the resident if he could come back and visit now that he knew where she lives.

“I hope you do that,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. She had a newspaper photo of Andretti sitting on her table.

Winnie Blalock, who lives next door to Tigar in Tatamy and owns Winnie’s Gourmet Delights, brought out a shoofly pie for Andretti.

“It pays off to be a volunteer,” he said before heading to several other stops.

In addition to sustenance, the meal recipients also got hugs from Andretti.

Other participants in Northampton County Meals on Wheels’ Community Champions Week include Tony Iannelli, president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Marcy and Barry Dobil, owners of Josh Early Candies.

Nenow said the organization wanted to get people who were recognizable in the community to help with meal delivery.

Northampton Meals on Wheels cooks up more than 470,000 meals a year for residents of Northampton, Lehigh and Monroe counties, Nenow said.