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Published March 10, 2013, 11:30 PM

Lake Park church provides meals for members in need

LAKE PARK, Minn. – Every two to three months, 15 to 20 volunteers from Eksjo Church here come together to prepare meals for members who are elderly, sick, hospitalized or otherwise in need.

By: Paul Flessland, INFORUM

LAKE PARK, Minn. – Every two to three months, 15 to 20 volunteers from Eksjo Church here come together to prepare meals for members who are elderly, sick, hospitalized or otherwise in need.

“Food is something that should not be that hard to come by,” said Melanie Hanson, one of the three Eksjo members who started the Angel Food Project about a year and a half ago.

Hanson said most recipients don’t have a problem preparing food but have limited mobility, especially those who live in rural areas. Vic Lindstrom is one of these people.

“When it’s stormy like it’s been this winter, I have no business driving to town to get groceries,” said the 90-year-old Lindstrom. “Boy, this sure helps. Just take it out of the freezer and warm it up.”

Angel Food Project is not a replacement for all its recipients’ meals. It’s only meant to be a supplement.

“We don’t want someone to completely rely on it,” Hanson said, but it is “a perfect way for them to have some backup.”

Relying on donations of food and money, volunteers prepare 15 to 20 meals for each recipient. They consist of anything from tater tot hotdish to turkey dinner with all the fixings, all pre-cooked and nutritious. Each meal gets some form of potatoes and a side of vegetables. Many of the vegetables are excess yield from local farmers.

The church, founded by Swedes in 1871, is even able to include some homemade lefse on occasion.

After preparation is complete, the meals are frozen and distributed that evening or the next day.

“It’s just such a treat to have someone else’s cooking,” said Mary McDaniel, one of the recipients of the food and a member of Eksjo for 43 years.

Although mobility is an issue for McDaniel, she said the main reason she appreciates the service is that it helps those who live alone plan meals.

Many members of Eksjo, like Lindstrom and McDaniel, have attended the church for several decades and have given both their monetary offerings and service to the church. Hanson says the Angel Food Project is a way to show their dedicated members appreciation.

“We hope other churches will follow our lead,” she said.

Hanson said the amount of recipients varies, but usually 10 to 15 individuals receive the service. Most recently, the Angel Food Project catered to 10 individuals from three families.

Most recipients are local, but the service has reached out as far as Rochester to help a family who had a loved one staying at the Mayo Clinic.

The reaction from the church has been overwhelmingly positive. Hanson even said that the meals have helped some families decide to let a family member live in their home longer, rather than having them move into nursing facilities or assisted living.

There is no set schedule for the Angel Food Project, but Hanson hopes to be able to send out meals every two to three months, if weather and crops permit.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Paul Flessland at (701) 241-5502

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