Meals on Wheels continues serving Lansing throughout pandemic

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More volunteers needed

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (October 11, 2021) – For a few dozen Lansing residents during the pandemic, one form of outside connection has come in styrofoam containers and paper bags.

These are the twice-weekly offerings of Lansing Meals on Wheels, a community-run organization that has spent the last two-and-a-half decades bringing meals to those in need throughout the community.

Meals on Wheels
Volunteers form an assembly line in the kitchen of First United Methodist Church to package hot food for a Meals on Wheels delivery. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Generosity on wheels

Don Jenkins started the program at First United Methodist Church in Lansing over 25 years ago, said JoAnn Kijewski, a current coordinator of Meals on Wheels.

The program is still based out of First United Methodist, where a few volunteers gather every Tuesday and Thursday to make and package meals. Once labeled and distributed by route, a few more volunteers load the meals into their vehicles and deliver them all across Lansing.

Volunteer Rich Dust shows his cooler contents — paper bags filled with buns, salad, and dessert — as volunteers Chuck Roseen (center) and Tim Glinski (right) double check the contents of their coolers. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Last Thursday, a volunteer assembly line scooped beans, hash browns, and pulled pork into styrofoam containers, and gathered buns, salad, and dessert to put into paper bags for the day’s meal recipients. A special portion of vegetarian beans was used for those unable to eat pork, and that group also received ravioli instead of pulled pork.

“We feel this is an outreach program,” Kijewski said of the long-running Lansing Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels
Lansing Meals on Wheels coordinator JoAnn Kijewski dished pork-free beans and pasta for those who couldn’t eat pork last Thursday. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The outreach program has weathered the pandemic thus far, and has continued to serve some of Lansing’s more vulnerable populations, without making them leave their homes.

“If you’re in need and you can’t prepare a meal for yourself, that’s what we’re here for,” Kijewski said, adding that often the twice-weekly visit serves as a wellness check for recipients, many of whom are elderly.

There is no income or age requirement for Lansing Meals on Wheels, with the only stipulation being Lansing residency. Each meal costs $4 to cover the cost of the food.

Lansing Meals on Wheels is not affiliated with the national Meals on Wheels program.

Volunteers keep Meals on Wheels rolling

Between the food shoppers, preparers, and deliverers, Lansing Meals on Wheels has about 30 people volunteering as part of the program, with 30-40 people receiving meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

From left: Phil Stewart, Jean Klacik, JoAnn Kijweski, and Cathy Stone pose for a photo after a job well done preparing food for 36 people in Lansing. More volunteers are needed to help with the program. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Lansing Meals on Wheels is currently seeking more volunteers, for kitchen prep and delivery. Kijewski says hours and days are flexible.

“You feel very satisfied helping people that are in need. We feel like we’re helping those that cannot help themselves,” Kijewski said.

Interested volunteers and those looking to purchase meals can call the office at First United Methodist Church at 708-474-1144.

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