PIPESTONE - In an effort to bring food to people who live outside a reasonable distance to a grocery store, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota has begun a new Meals to Go program that ships frozen meals to rural residents in five counties, including Pipestone County.

LSS senior director Kristin Schurrer said that within the selected counties, there have been meal requests that LSS was unable to fulfill with the Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels primarily focuses on towns and cities, relying on volunteers to deliver within a wider radius.

This problem is growing as food deserts become more prevalent. The USDA defines a food desert as an area where nutritious food is scarce, usually identified by a large number of residents with no car who live more than a mile from a grocery store.

Schurrer said the Meals to Go program is “a good start” to addressing the expansion of food deserts. She said some other productive steps would be supporting local grocery stores and farmers markets, as well as providing transportation for people to purchase healthy food.

“We will continue our traditional Meals on Wheels delivery to those who receive this service, but we have seen our numbers going down for individuals on the elderly waiver,” she said.

Schurrer added that the new Meals to Go program is planned by a dietician so that each meal is nutritious and meets one third of the daily nutrient values recommended by the FDA.

Although anyone of any age is welcome to register for Meals to Go through private pay, many individuals may qualify for a waiver.

To register or for more information, call 1-800-488-4146 or email meals@lssmn.org.