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Donation funds shelf-stable meals for seniors

Julie buntjer/Daily Globe Harris Takle delivers a shelf-stable meal to Worthington resident Carol Eggleston. Takle is a volunteer driver for Lutheran Social Service, which operates the senior nutrition program locally.

WORTHINGTON -- Lutheran Social Service is celebrating five years of delivering nutritious meals to seniors in southwest Minnesota by forging a partnership with Wal-Mart to provide aging residents in the senior dining program with shelf-stable meals.

Wal-Mart recently donated $50,000 to Lutheran Social Services to purchase shelf-stable meals for senior dining participants.

The money will be divided among 225 LSS meal sites in Minnesota, according to Rhonda Lorang, assistant director for LSS in Pipestone, Rock, Murray, Nobles, Jackson and Martin counties.

"We try to send out two shelf-stable meals every month -- especially during the winter months," Lorang said.

Linda Sanchez, senior dining site coordinator in Worthington, said the shelf-stable meals typically include a can of vegetable soup, a can of chicken or tuna, a single-serve fruit, crackers and hot cocoa mix -- items that make up the four basic food groups for proper nutrition.

"We like to have them available so if we're closed for bad weather in the winter, or for whatever reason, they have a meal," said Sanchez.

Earlier this week, volunteer driver Harris Takle collected several of the meals, packaged in brown paper bags, to deliver to the seniors on his route.

They were given one shelf-stable meal to keep on hand, and one hot, delicious meal to enjoy for lunch.

Takle has been a volunteer driver for a long time, and meal recipient Carol Eggleston always enjoys his visit -- saying he's one of the best volunteers.

In addition to the shelf-stable and hot meals offered by LSS, the program also provides frozen meals that can be ordered by seniors in the program.

"Some of the seniors are really good about paying attention to the weather and they might order an extra frozen meal to have on hand," said Sanchez.

Monica Douglas, director of Senior Nutrition for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, said five years of providing senior nutrition to southwest Minnesota is a milestone.

"Our success is a testament to the wonderful team we've built," she said. "Our dedicated staff of volunteers, cooks, transporters and site managers has made Senior Nutrition's presence in southern Minnesota a life-changing option for the individuals we serve."

Senior Nutrition staff assists older adults in maintaining their independence by providing the nutritious, low-cost meals through meal sites and home delivery.

In its first five years of operation in southwest Minnesota, 23,402 individuals have received nearly three million meals.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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