LSS meals not just for the elderly
By Anna Jauhola
Richard Wilwant was excited to get a few extra meals last week in Lancaster.
He lives at Lancaster Senior Housing, where Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) set up its Pop-Up Frozen Meals distribution on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Within a half hour, most of the meals were gone, said Cindy Christopherson, LSS meal site coordinator for Kittson County.
This effort has been ongoing, especially during the COVID pandemic, to ensure seniors got healthy meals while congregate dining was closed. Now, it has become a bonus for those who have found the meals to be a great addition to their diets.
The frozen meals are distributed statewide and are available for anyone 60 and older. Although the pandemic continues, LSS finally allowed for in-person congregate dining again earlier this fall. However, it was not an easy transition.
The meals programs have struggled in Kittson County over the last year, but that’s turning around. The senior centers in Karlstad, Hallock and Lake Bronson all used to have their own cooks. Most recently, Karlstad and Hallock lost their cooks, and meals were being transported to people from the Warren site.
Christopherson said the Karlstad site was closed from Jan. 1 to early September because they didn’t have a cook.
“The cook had retired and we couldn’t find a replacement,” she said. “But we did keep meals coming out, we just didn’t have congregate dining because of COVID.”
The Karlstad Senior Center finally opened back up for congregate dining in October and they hired a new cook. So Karlstad’s LSS site delivers meals to Hallock, Lake Bronson and Greenbush every day.
Hallock’s senior center, The Station, also was closed for congregate dining through most of 2021, but had a cook from January until mid-May. But after two employees quit, there was no one to cook there either.
That’s when all sites began getting meals from Warren.
“Between May and September, we had Mary Dziengel working to help us out,” Christopherson said. “Then we finally got somebody on board in September to manage the center.”
However, they still do not have a cook. This will not change until The Station has a consistently higher number of diners on a regular basis, Christopherson said.
“There’s not enough people dining in Hallock to support two cooks,” she said. “I told the group in Hallock, if you grow your numbers, we’re ready to get a cook in there. You have to justify that position, though, with the number of people you’re serving.”
Christopherson said some days the site will only serve 10 meals – both congregate and delivery – and other days they’ll have 20.
While there is no single reason for the lower numbers, Christopherson said there is good reason for people to start dining at The Station again. Many people have commented to her that the meals are delicious and it is good to get back to socializing, and Christopherson hopes that will encourage more people to both congregate and order delivery meals again.
Food for All
Meals served at LSS sites and diner’s clubs – like Foxy Roxy’s in Lancaster – are for everyone; there is just a slight price difference.
“If you’re over 60, the suggested donation is $5 to $6.75, or whatever you can afford,” Christopherson said.
For those under 60 who would like to dine, the fixed cost is $8.75 per meal.
“Yes, you can eat with us if you’re under 60. In fact, we encourage it,” she said.
If you choose to dine at a congregate site, like The Station of Karlstad Senior Center, they ask you call 24 hours ahead so they know how many meals to order. For the diner’s club, which is Foxy Roxy’s in Lancaster, you must purchase a ticket at United Valley Bank in Lancaster. Diners hand in the tickets at the restaurant when they go in for the meal.
Each week, the Enterprise publishes The Station News column by Elaine Baker. She often encourages people of all ages to stop by and check out the meals. You can do this by calling ahead at 218-843-2604 to sign up for or get delivery meals. This will help The Station grow its number of regular diners, which in turn will eventually allow the center to hire its own cook, and better ensure the future of the senior center for everyone.
To order meals at the Karlstad Senior Center, you can call 218-436-2400.
To order meals at the Lake Bronson Senior Center, call 218-754-2710.
To order delivery meals at Foxy Roxy’s, call 218-762-1799. You must purchase a ticket at United Valley Bank in Lancaster for LSS meals at the restaurant – you can call 218-762-5955.
More information about the meals programs can be found at www.lssmn.org.