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New Wheels and Meals director plans to expand elderly services

A service that has been available in Kenmare for several years is taking small steps in expansion, according to the new director.

2/24/15 (Tue)




The staff at Wheels and Meals, Margaret Peterson, head cook, Angie Jones, driver, Lisa Bartlett, director, Mary Bjergaard, driver and Halley Bartlett, Sunday driver, gather late Monday morning with another dinner prepared at the Kenmare Senior Center, as well as several hot meals for the road.


By Marvin Baker

A service that has been available in Kenmare for several years is taking small steps in expansion, according to the new director.

Lisa Bartlett, who became director the Kenmare Wheels and Meals program in November 2014, is content with the service but wants to expand it to give seniors in the community more opportunities.

Bartlett, who replaced Linda Freeman, gave Freeman high accolades for the work she had done with the program.

“I want to thank Linda and NDSSP (North Dakota Senior Service Providers) for keeping it going so long,” Bartlett said. “She put her heart into it and this is why I can pick up where she left off.”

As the name implies, the service currently provides meals for seniors from Kenmare to Columbus as well as a transit for the community of Kenmare.

Meals are served in-house in the Kenmare Senior Center.

“If you’re under 60, you can come in for lunch for $10,” Bartlett said. “If you’re 60 and over, you can have a meal here and it’s a donation only. I’m trying to get the public to understand this. I’m not going to turn anybody away.”

Bartlett said all home delivery and congregate meals are made from scratch under the auspices of Margaret Peterson who has been cooking for more than 20 years.

Meals are delivered as far as Columbus on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as in Kenmare Monday through Friday.

The service includes home delivery in Mohall, as well as a congregate sit in Glenburn that has been very successful, according to Bartlett.

She said 108 meals were served in Glenburn in January, but may have something to do with the fact that the gathering place is a cafe in Glenburn.

“For those who are alone, it’s a benefit for them,” Bartlett said. “And it’s based on donations. Just call and answer a few questions.”

Bartlett added that when a new client comes on board, she does her best to make a personal visit on the first delivery.

There’s also frozen meals that are delivered once a month. Bartlett prefers people stop by and pick them up, however, if the client can’t get to the Kenmare Senior Center, those meals will be delivered too, on a donation basis.

“Those meals are prepared in Minot and blast frozen,” Bartlett said. “They have a dietician in house and we follow those guidelines, which is staying within the state’s guidelines for nutrition.”

Bartlett said clients may order 12 separate frozen meals that includes a dessert, which is usually fruit.

The in-house menu is a three-month cycle so clients aren’t going to see the same meal twice for approximately 90 days.

The attendance for meals in the Kenmare center has fallen away to a handful in recent years, according to Bartlett, and she is really hoping that the appeal is there to get the attendance back to a respectable level.

She said not so long ago up to 50 people would drop by for a noon meal.

Meals are generally served at 11:45 a.m., and Bartlett said a courtesy call 24 hours out would help with the preparedness. The number to call is 385-4364.

If one or two people show up for a noon meal, it’s not an issue, but if several drop by, there may not be enough meals prepared.

And as Bartlett explained it, she receives state and federal dollars for her non-profit and has to be careful about how those dollars are spent.

“But everyone can eat, and everyone can ride the bus,” she said. “Come in, have lunch, get a full meal and go home.”

She said the menu is on the website: (www.wheelsandmeals.org) and would like to see the community “come in and give it a try.”

To add to the appeal, Bartlett said all food items are purchased in the two grocery stores in Kenmare, rather than through a food service. That way, it’s often more fresh and Bartlett knows exactly what she is getting.

As far as the transit, anyone can ride and, as you might imagine, Bartlett said the service goes “way up” in the winter.

“We take kids to school and we take people to work, to the store or to church,” Bartlett said. “If Mom needs a ride, call the bus.”

She said there are a number of people who use the service frequently and if Kenmare residents are interested in doing that, they may purchase a ticket for $30, good for a month and 20 rides.

“There are kids we pick up every day,” she said. “They ride the bus every day.”

Meals and Wheels has a heated garage so the bus will always start during the winter months and the cabin is warm when people board.

The meals and transit keep Bartlett, her employees Angie Jones, Mary Bjergaard and Peterson, as well as several volunteers hopping.

However, since she became director, she has noticed some shortfalls in the community and that is where the expansion comes in.

She intends to take a field trip in May that is open to the public. It’s a salute to seniors in Minot and classic TV will be highlighted.

“Seniors who are not traveling with family, don’t usually travel at all,” Bartlett said. “They like to get out of town. I have the capacity to take 16 people. I thought it would be nice to bring more fun to Kenmare.”

Home care, housekeeping, bathing and meds are all items that Bartlett wants to incorporate into a “one-stop shop.”

Several days ago she received a call from someone who asked her to fix a computer.

“In the spring, we want to incorporate a handyman service for the elderly,” Bartlett said. “I want the people who can’t mow their lawn or paint their bedroom to let us know.”

In addition, she is planning to cater a meal at the senior center in April. If that goes well, she would like to see that service expand as a way to add some revenue for more flexibility to operate the business.

Bartlett, who answers to a board of directors, admitted she has a lot of energy, but providing a service to the elderly is paramount.

“I wouldn’t have signed on if I didn’t think it was a good program,” she said. “For some it’s hard to see and they can’t prepare meals. For them it’s a necessary service. And socializing is important. These people just can’t be alone.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!