Meals on Wheels gives a helping hand to the west metro

By Nicole Brodzik
nicole.brodzik@ecm-inc.com

Kris Strobel and John Ehrlichmann organize meals at Jubilee for a Thursday delivery. (Nicole Brodzik/The Laker)
Kris Strobel and John Ehrlichmann organize meals at Jubilee for a Thursday delivery. (Nicole Brodzik/The Laker)

About six months ago, Bernice Geyen was living in a nursing home, unable to care for herself or her husband in their home.

Today, Bernice and George Geyen live together in their St. Bonifacius home, thanks in part to Western Communities Action Network’s Meals on Wheels program.

“It would be very hard for me to make a balanced meal for us,” George Geyen said. “(Meals on Wheels) helps us stay in our home.”

The Meals on Wheels program delivers meals five days a week to clients all over the west metro area thanks to nearly 60 dedicated volunteers.

Kris Strobel is food programs coordinator at Western Communities Action Network (WeCAN) and she organizes meals for each volunteer’s route every day. The meals are created by Jubliee Foods in Mound and get help with funding from donations, self pay medical insurance and Hennepin County.

“I do a count of meals we need for the next day, I email Jubilee the night before and say we need this many meals,” Strobel said. “We also do restricted meals. This gentleman can’t have greens because of a medication he’s on. He gets a substitue for the vegetable.”

Strobel said they deliver between 30 an 45 meals depending on the day, with two meals being delivered per client both Thursday and Friday to cover the weekend when Meals on Wheels is not in service.
Strobel said that for some clients, the time they spend with their Meals on Wheels volunteer is the only social interaction they have all day. She said the volunteers who make deliveries know that and spend extra time trying to make a difference.

“It’s amazing how attached the volunteers get to their people,” Strobel said. “We have volunteers who bring eggs from their own chickens or who take clients to doctors appointments. They’re long term friendships.

The Geyens have only been clients of Meals on Wheels for four months, but they’ve already formed relationships with multiple volunteers. One of those stoof out to George Geyen above the others.
“Kaitlyn (Oglund) was so nice,” he said. “When she left because of her job, she gave us her phone number in case we ever needed anything.

“The people are all so nice. They come in and talk for a while and we really love that.”

The Meals on Wheels program serves Mound, Maple Plain, Orono, Spring Park and St. Bonifacius. Strobel said they are always looking for more volunteer drivers, especially with people heading south for the winter. She said most routes take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to complete and that anyone interested in volunteering or donating should call the WeCAN office at 952-472-0742. People in need of food deliveries should call the same number to get information on joining the program.