Local organizations offer food delivery to senior citizens

Meals on Wheels, Feed My People collaborate to bring Eau Claire seniors emergency food

Story by Steve Fruehauf, Sports Editor

It’s a tough choice for senior citizens: move to a nursing home or live independently.

But recently, Meals on Wheels and Feed My People have been working on a soulution.

Meals on Wheels is an organization aimed at addressing senior hunger. With a local team of 28 volunteer drivers, hot food is regularly delivered to seniors’ homes throughout Eau Claire County. Becky Hinzmann, the organization’s nutrition and transportation supervisor, said they reach around 300 people every day.

“If a senior citizen is 60 years or older, lives in Eau Claire County and is homebound, they are eligible for what we consider the donation price of Meals on Wheels,” Hinzmann said. “The donation price is $3.75 per meal. Sacred Heart (Hospital) works with us on getting the food made and ready and packaged up and then the volunteers deliver it out to the recipient.”

But when faced with harsh weather and unsafe road conditions, Hinzmann said the organization will stall distribution and wait for a safer time to deliver. She said when schools are closed due to weather-related issues, they close as well.

The second week of December was a prime example. With dangerous road conditions due to excessive snowfall and below-zero temperatures, numerous local schools closed along with Meals on Wheels. However, Feed My People prepared food for regular meal recipients.

Sara Nemec, Feed My People’s community engagement coordinator, said due to the non-profit organization’s new senior citizen initiative, they were able to prepare around 450 emergency food boxes in case weather took a turn for the worst. Each box had enough food for 20 meals.

“We worked together with Meals on Wheels knowing (bad weather) happens,” Nemec said. “So we knew that there was this need to make sure that seniors had meals and food available when volunteers weren’t able to bring them these hot meals.”

She said Meals on Wheels volunteers, ranging from the ages of 18 to 80, took these boxes and delivered them prior to the weekend’s severe weather. Hinzmann said she tells recipients to have extra food stored at home in case neither organization is able to reach them.

Nemec said part of Feed My People’s mission is to serve populations vulnerable to hunger. While they usually focus on addressing child hunger, she said they wanted to helping others in need as well.

“Not to say that we’re shifting focus from that, we are still definitely supporting that program and trying to battle child hunger here in this area, but we also wanted to start reaching out to the senior citizen population as well,” Nemec said.

Hinzmann said she also thinks senior citizen aid should be a top priority. At that age, she said it’s hard for people to take the time to make healthy food. Having it delivered to them lets them keep their independence.