Eau Claire County Meals on Wheels program grows into new facility

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 4:57 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Every weekday, Eau Claire County Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers pack hundreds of meals to deliver to homebound seniors in the community. Now, the growing program is dishing out meals from a new facility.

Director of the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County, Linda Struck, said the program used to rent from a nursing home in Fall Creek. This summer, they moved next to the Eau Claire County Highway Facility.

“The kitchen was a little bit outdated and because we didn’t own it, some of the things weren’t within our control. We were paying rent, so by being a part of a county facility that reduced our rent obligation quite a bit. Now, because we’re a central kitchen we’re also able to provide meals for parts of Chippewa and Trempealeau County,” Struck said.

“We used to have a small kitchen where it was not very functional. Now that we have this new kitchen, it makes our job easier and faster,” Meals on Wheels kitchen cook, Gilda Halbleib, said.

Along with extra kitchen space, the new facility has a produce garden out front.

“Everything we planted, we used. We had lettuce and we had cucumbers and tomatoes. All of it was used,” Struck said.

Over 600 meals are packed and delivered every weekday. Struck said that wouldn’t happen without volunteers.

“In 2022, we had thousands of hours of volunteer time, which equated to almost seven full time employees,” Struck said.

For Struck and Meals on Wheels volunteers, it’s about more than just giving out a hot meal.

“It is a wellness check. If you have a loved one who lives alone and is in need of some nutritious meals, it is important to get that meal, but it’s also important that somebody’s checking in on them. Maybe their family and friends live in a different town,” Struck said.

“I get to make a difference for our senior community,” Halbleib said.

Last year, Meals on Wheels served nearly 97,000 meals in Eau Claire County. This year they’re on target to hit 100,000 meals.

To find out more about Eau Claire County Meals on Wheels, or to find out if you qualify to receive meals, click here.