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Roberts UCC reaches out through the web

Carol Moenke, 69, fell down 14 steps, breaking both wrists, fracturing a vertebra in her neck, dislocating her jaw and acquiring many bruises. Her husband Jim Moenke is recovering from knee surgery. While both are recovering well, Jim Moenke said cooking meals has been difficult for the couple.

"We're pretty handicapped," Jim Moenke said.

Fortunately for the Moenkes, their church, Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ (Roberts UCC), has started a new web-based ministry that makes meals a click away for the Moenkes.

"I'm really glad the church is doing what they're doing," Jim Moenke said.

The church is helping coordinate meals for those in need through a website called Food Tidings (

According to Roberts UCC food tidings coordinator, Lori Jurek, Roberts UCC and community members often bring food to people in their community who are injured, grieving, have welcomed a new child, or are otherwise in need of meals. Roberts UCC's new outreach program, she said, simply streamlines the process.

"This is a really simple way to support families within our church," Jurek said. "I think feeding people is a really nurturing, loving act of kindness."

Jurek said decided to use the Food Tidings website after a website was set up for a woman who was a member of Roberts UCC died in a motorcycle accident earlier this year. A community member set up a Food Tidings account for the woman's family. When Jurek saw an opportunity for Roberts UCC to formalize and streamline their food outreach ministry, she decided to use Food Tidings as the Roberts UCC community was already familiar with it.

Jurek said when she is working with a family, like the Moenkes, that needs meals delivered to them, she creates a page for them on the Food Tidings website. Food Tidings then allows individuals to sign up for a day to provide a meal for that particular family. Jurek said the website even allows the family receiving the food to specify special nutritional needs, and likes or dislikes. And people can list the meal they are bringing on each particular day they are signed up for, so the family doesn't end up receiving the same meal several times in a row.

"The food tidings website is really just to simplify the process of organizing those meals," Jurek said. "We're doing that type of care and outreach for people anyway."

Jim Moenke said he has kidney disease, and has several diet restrictions he needs to follow, which Food Tidings has made people making meals aware of.

"Anything that's cooked with milk, has to be soy milk," Jim Moenke said. "And people are doing that for me so it's very nice."

Jurek said she has been getting positive feedback from those cooking meals, as well as families receiving meals. She herself cooks meals and said it is an easy way to help.

"Most of us are cooking for our own families anyway," Jurek said, "and find that it is not difficult to increase the amount that you're making."

Jurek said worrying about making dinner on top of the stress of surgery or injury, as in the case of the Moenkes, can make life stressful.

"It's just about taking one little stressor out of a person's life when they've got other things going on," Jurek said.

Moenke said receiving meals means a lot to him and his wife. They are receiving meals twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but each meal is large enough the leftovers make up another meal.

"So we're actually getting four meals," Jim Moenke said.

Jim Moenke said the help with meals has been wonderful, but he said Roberts UCC members have gone above and beyond feeding the Moenkes. Church members have also volunteered to help his wife shower and wash her hair twice a week, water their gardens, and one church member has even helped Jim finish off the mats he's woven for an art show at the ArtZ gallery in Amery.

"I don't think we've ever received such kindness," Moenke said. "I don't think I've ever been the recipient of such kindness before in my life."

Jurek said anyone interested in making meals for those receiving them from Roberts UCC can visit for more information.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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