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Delivery program feeds seniors and the soul

Kyle Hinrichs (left) delivers a lunch to Mildred Lias during his recent Meals on Wheels route. Two such meal programs are offered in the New Richmond area.1 / 2
Randy Calleja (background) and Kyle Hinrichs get the meals ready for delivery.2 / 2

A cadre of volunteers is doing its best to make sure New Richmond senior citizens are eating well.

There are two Meals on Wheels efforts in the city.

One arm of the local Meals on Wheel program operates out of kitchen of The Deerfield assisted living facility. It's sponsored by Westfields Hospital.

A second program is part of the New Richmond Senior Center, which is operated by the St. Croix County Aging and Disability Resource Center.

The Westfields program delivers anywhere between a dozen to 18 meals a day to home-bound residents who need a nutritious meal. Its meals are delivered by local volunteers, many of whom are members of the Rotary Club of New Richmond.

Between 15 and 20 meals are delivered four days a week from the local senior center. The van drivers who pick up seniors and bring them to the center also deliver the meals to the homebound residents.

The senior center Meals on Wheels program serves people within a five-mile radius of New Richmond. The Westfields program serves people within the city limits.

"They are homebound residents who can't get out and people who have just had surgery," said Randy Calleja, Westfields chief cook. "Some people might only get the meals delivered for a few weeks while they recover. Others order meals for a longer time."

The Westfields meal program is different from the senior center lunch in that special dietary needs of recipients are taken into consideration. Special foods can be ordered to meet a person's needs, Calleja said.

The Westfields effort has been operating for about 10 years. A good crew of meal delivery volunteers helps out, Calleja said.

"But we're always looking for more volunteers," he added.

Aaron Miller, with Miller Brothers Auto Repair in Somerset, has volunteered to deliver several times. He helped get the Rotary Club more involved in the effort.

When the Rotary Club had a recent tour of The Deerfield, Calleja happened to be scrambling to find a volunteer driver that day.

"I thought, 'There's an opportunity for our club,'" Miller explained. "I thought it was a good fit for our club. Helping those who are in need is what we're all about, and Randy was receptive to having more helping hands."

The partnership between the Rotary and the Meals on Wheels program has turned out to be a success.

"Number one, it's not that hard to do," he said. "Number two, it's fun and rewarding. It's nice to see the smiles on people's faces when you deliver their meal."

Local realtor Kyle Hinrichs, also a Rotary member, agreed.

"People are always so appreciative when you deliver the meal," he said. "It's something I like to do, to give back to the community a little bit."

He said his work schedule is somewhat flexible, allowing him time to volunteer on various community projects where there is a need.

For more information on the Meals on Wheels programs, contact the New Richmond Senior Center at 715-246-6221 or The Deerfield at 715-243-3900.