As a retired registered nurse, Judy knows the value of good nutrition when it comes to staying healthy. And as someone who gets Meals on Wheels, she appreciates healthy food that also tastes good.

Judy, who is 72 and lives in Brooklyn Park, signed up for Meals on Wheels about a year ago when arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome made it difficult for her to cook nutritious meals for herself. “I was just having a harder and harder time getting around,” she says.

Judy also noticed that she wasn’t able to get out of the house as much as she used to and thought it might be nice to have someone to visit with during her lunch hour. “The people that deliver the meals are just wonderful,” she says. “It’s like a little special time every day. It feels like the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”

What Judy didn’t know when she signed up to receive meals was that she would be among the first to try the new food prepared by the Meals on Wheels Kitchen of Opportunities, the first kitchen dedicated to serving Meals on Wheels recipients throughout the Twin Cities. Her meals are delivered by Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP), which began serving the first meals produced by the Meals on Wheels Kitchen of Opportunities in March.

“The clients are really enjoying the changes,” said CEAP President Clare Brumback. “They love that there’s an extra spice or an extra ingredient that makes the food that much better.”

“It’s been great,” says Judy. “I really like the new food. The turkey meatloaf is really good and the fish is really good.”

The goal of the Kitchen of Opportunities

Up to this point, Twin Cities Meals on Wheels programs have purchased their food from professional caterers with expertise in producing meals for seniors. While that model has served Metro Meals on Wheels and its member programs well, launching the Kitchen of Opportunities presented opportunities to increase both food quality and make meals more accessible to those who need them most.

“Bringing meal production in-house as opposed to purchasing them from a caterer not only takes profit out of the equation in terms of meal costs, but allows us greater control over providing outstanding meals to our recipients,” says Metro Meals on Wheels Executive Director Patrick Rowan. “It really allows us to offer the best service and best quality of meals in the community.”

“We know we’re going to get the quality of food we want and the cost is going to be as good as it can possibly be,” says Community Emergency Services Operations Director Mike Krachmer, whose program serves Minneapolis and began serving meals from the Kitchen of Opportunities in March.

A focus on fresh and healthy

For many seniors who get Meals on Wheels, they play a vital role in their general health. In fact, hospitalization rates fell for people receiving Meals on Wheels fell 39 percent after they started receiving meals, according to study results published in April by Brown University and Meals on Wheels America.

Because we know Meals on Wheels recipients rely heavily on the daily meal they receive, a big motivation for opening the Kitchen of Opportunities was to ensure that we’re doing all we can to provide highly nutritious meals to recipients. “We really try to deliver on the promise that food is medicine,” Alan Schelin, director of kitchen operations at the Kitchen of Opportunities.

“We are adding in the freshest ingredients we can,” says Kris Almstedt, kitchen supervisor at the Kitchen of Opportunities. “I just think it’s a great thing that people who may not be normally getting a nutritious meal or eating well at all are getting a really awesome meal.”

If you or someone you know could benefit from the delivery of a fresh, nutritious meals, sign up online to get meals or call us at 612-623-3363.