Free meal delivery service in Grand Forks sees more needsThe faces change along Maria Fischer’s delivery route through the north end of Grand Forks, but her mission has remained the same for the past 11 years. Fischer is one of about 75 active volunteers that deliver about 90 meals by request from individual in need or from social service organizations.
By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald
The faces change along Maria Fischer’s delivery route through the north end of Grand Forks, but her mission to provide food to those who need it has remained the same for the past 11 years.
That’s how long Fischer has been volunteering for Home Delivered Meals, a free service based at Altru Hospital.
Fischer is one of about 75 active volunteers that deliver about 90 meals by request from individual in need or from social service organizations.
“Last year around this time it was about 75 meals a day,” said Wendy Wood, director of Home Delivered Meals.
Increasing demand has left the organization in need of 10 to 15 fulltime and part-time volunteers.
Volunteers who signed up as substitutes are now becoming regulars, Wood said.
When she first started volunteering, Fischer delivered meals once a week over the noon hour. Her role has since expanded and she now runs her route four times a week and assists in the organization’s office once a week.
“When we asked her to work in the office, she didn’t know how to say no,” Wood said.
On her route — one of eight that wind around the city — Fischer delivered food to 10 clients Thursday. She knows each of them by name and their dietary needs.
Each day she volunteers, she packs the meals in a warmer and places it in the backseat of her car. Then she heads north and delivers to people in homes, apartments and assisted-living faculties.
Though she usually delivers alone, sometimes Fischer brings her granddaughters with her on her route.
“People love to see them,” she said. “It makes their day a little brighter.”
While entering the home of a stranger may seem off-putting to some, Fischer said it isn’t something she worries about.
“I just try to stay diligent wherever I am,” she said. There are homes she has been wary of in the past when she has her granddaughters with her though. “I tell them to wait outside when I go to those,” she said.
If a client knows they won’t be home over lunch regularly because they have a job or some other commitment, they or their caregivers can give keys to Home Delivered Meals or make arrangements for delivery to a neighbor or family member.
Volunteers don’t leave food if no one is home and no keys have been provided, Wood said, because there’s a chance someone could tamper with the meal.
While many of the organization’s clients are elderly or developmentally disabled, Wood said, they aren’t the only ones in need.
“We had a mother of two who was released from the hospital after back surgery get meals for about a week,” she said. People fresh out of the hospital usually use the service until they are fully mobile again, she said.
In other cases, volunteers may serve meals to elderly men who never had to learn how to cook.
“It’s not common in this day and age, but for the generation we’re serving you see it a lot,” Wood said.
After volunteering for more than a decade, Fischer has gotten to know not only her clients but their family members as well. She attends the funerals of clients and sometimes even the funerals of their family members.
One thing many of the clients have in common is that they are extremely thankful for the service, Wood said.
For Home Delivered Meals, it’s about more than serving those who are homebound, she said. “It’s about the nutrition.”
Without the meals, Wood and Fischer said their clients would probably eat a lot of chips and candy bars.
Both believe the service is responsible for allowing people to continue living independently in their homes longer than they would without it.
Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.