Meals on Wheels feeds seniors in more than 5,000 communities nationwide, but the volunteer-based program does a lot more than deliver hot meals.
It also serves as a welfare check for its recipients.
Meals on Wheels has been supporting hundreds of people in and around Minot for nearly 50 years.
It provides warm food and company to those who need it.
“A lot of people are fed every day through meals on wheels,” said Roger Reich, executive director for the Minot Commission on Aging.
Depending on the day, anywhere from 225 to 300 people, in 28 cities in northwest North Dakota, open their doors to a special delivery from Meals on Wheels.
“Some of the relationships that these volunteers have built with our clients is amazing,” said Reich.
Take Jordan Hughes for example. He said, “It’s a super great way to be involved in the community here.”
He takes a couple of hours every Friday to stop and see people like his newfound friend, Gail Lien.
The meals are kind of just one part of it,” said Hughes. “They might not even be the most important. Actually getting out and seeing the people and getting to talk to them and really getting to know a lot of them is important, too. Lots of times we might be the only people that they interact with during the day, especially if they’re living at home by themselves.”
He’s right. Volunteers carry more than a hot meal out of the car, their stops serve as welfare checks, too.
If the resident doesn’t answer, it’s their job to call their emergency contact.
“I don’t know what we would do, actually, without you guys,” Gail Lein said as she opened her door to Hughes. “It’s always nice. You’re always so pleasant and cheerful, and besides, you and Max are just cute!”
That’s Max Patzner, the driver. He usually stays in the car, but he’s making a difference, too.
“There’s no way you can get this kind of food, this kind of care, anyplace else for people our age,” Lein said.
Meals on Wheels just about never misses a beat.
The only time meals aren’t delivered is if weather conditions close down Minot Public Schools, then the Minot Commission on Aging takes its drivers off the roads, too.
However, frozen meals are provided in the event that bad weather is expected.