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Volunteers needed to deliver home meals

From the Aging and Disability Resource Center

Last year, the county-run Aging and Disability Resource Center provided 19,649 meals to 237 homebound elders in St. Croix County through 11 senior centers. Such efforts were made possible by volunteers who assist staff in food preparation and delivery.

These volunteers provide social contact as they drop off a hot meal and often inform recipients of other programs that may benefit them by helping them remain independent.

According to the resource center, volunteers come in many ways, some working an hour a week or twice a month. Others own or work for a business where all employees take a turn. But more help is needed, and volunteers can determine the amount of time they wish to commit.

Currently there are volunteers who travel south but help out from April through August or September. Others like to spend summers at the lake so they pitch in during the fall and winter months. And substitute drivers are needed.

"Volunteers do this because they know how important it is to have adequate nutrition, and the program enables elders to remain independent. With each meal delivery they also check to be sure participants are staying healthy," said Rhonda Johnson, outreach coordinator at the center.

There are four routes in Hudson, and each takes about an hour for the delivery of all the meals. But the need is growing and another route is needed. The nutrition site van delivers meals to senior housing sites.

Volunteers deliver two routes in town and one to rural homes.

Johnson says those who participate in the home-delivered meal program know it's more than just a nutritious meal four times a week. Participants also receive a friendly visit and supportive service.

"Folks often get meals just after being discharged from the hospital or following surgery, some have long-term medical conditions that limit independence, and some receive them because adult children want help for them," says Johnson.

The donation-based program is made possible through Older American's Act funding and donations from participants, family members and those who understand the value of this type of service.

Johnson visits each participant receiving meals, assigns and supervises the volunteers, and evaluates what additional services they may need.

Volunteers go through an orientation session to familiarize them with the program and the meal delivery system. Currently there are 19 volunteers in Hudson.

To learn more about volunteering, contact Nancy Abrahamson, volunteer coordinator, at (715) 381-4360.

For more information about the home-delivered meal program, contact Rhonda Johnson, outreach coordinator at (715) 381-4360.