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Mobile Meals program in need of drivers

Volunteers needed to deliver hot meals to homebound residents in Worthington

Journey Ministries volunteers head out for their routes after picking up Mobile Meals prepared by the Sanford Worthington Medical Center cafeteria Thursday morning.
Journey Ministries volunteers head out for their routes after picking up Mobile Meals prepared by the Sanford Worthington Medical Center cafeteria Thursday morning.
Tim Middagh / The Globe<br/>
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WORTHINGTON — The Mobile Meals program in Worthington silently marked its 50th anniversary in October 2021, and while volunteers — mostly retired, with at least one in her 90s — have kept the program going through the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is now struggling to find enough volunteers to deliver meals.

Marilyn Greve has served on the program’s board of directors for 40 years, and said they are hurting to find drivers to deliver the nearly 60 meals prepared by Sanford Worthington Medical Center. Volunteers collect the hot, nutritious meals daily, Monday through Friday, from the hospital lobby to deliver to clients within the city limits.

Today, deliveries are divided into seven routes, which means they need a minimum of seven volunteer drivers — and it’s always helpful if there’s a person to accompany them on the deliveries, shared Greve. In all, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes per driver to collect the meals and take them to recipients.

“Our coordinator is really good about concentrating the routes in the same area of town,” Greve said.

Mobile Meals was organized by 15 local churches in October 1971. Today, 14 churches are represented on the board of directors, but some have smaller and aging congregations that make it difficult to generate enough volunteers.

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Greve said some of the larger churches volunteer for a whole month, while smaller churches have begun partnering with one or two others to have enough volunteers to take two weeks.

“A couple of churches have dropped off completely, although some individuals still help,” Greve said. “They just couldn’t get enough volunteers for even two weeks.”

Recipients of the meals are often home-bound individuals who, because of illness, disability, advanced age or other incapacitating condition, are unable to prepare a meal for themselves. Clients are often referred to Mobile Meals by the hospital, a home health provider or social services, although individuals may also choose to pay for meal delivery.

“It helps many people to stay in their own home,” Greve said of the program. She’s enjoyed volunteering during the past 40 years because she gets to put a smile on someone’s face every day.

“We might be the only people they see all day,” she said.

Greve said Mobile Meals has had a substitute driver list from some local, civic organizations, but they are asking for more volunteers from those local organizations — and anyone interested in helping out — to deliver meals.

“What we really could use is someone to take a regular route for even a week at a time — if we could get several,” she added.

Dee Ella coordinates the client list and can sign up new clients, and also coordinates delivery routes. Those wishing to become volunteer drivers may contact her at 376-4769.

Related Topics: WORTHINGTON
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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