At A Glance
Location: Wright County, Minnesota
FHLB Des Moines Member: Citizens State Bank of Waverly
The Impact: WCCA rallied the community to answer the call when their regularly scheduled meals to 50 individuals per month jumped to more than 1,000 when the pandemic hit, most of them high-risk senior citizens.
The Need: Senior citizens were facing a dual set of challenges during the pandemic. They were afraid to leave their homes for fear of contracting COVID-19, and they were becoming food insecure due to dwindling supplies and higher costs.
The Results: This small nonprofit group was able to facilitate the creation and maintenance of this impressive collaborative effort in just a few short weeks. From March 2020 through July 2021, 114,998 meals have been delivered allowing vulnerable senior citizens to remain in their homes. In addition, they were in regular contact with more than 1,000 seniors to check on their health and well-being and allow them to connect to another person during their isolation.
The Key Players: Wright County Community Action (WCCA), Waverly Café, Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm, Catholic Charities, Trailblazer Transit and J&B Group (No Name Steaks).
The Full Story
Since 2019, WCCA has partnered with Catholic Charities to deliver frozen meals through their mobile food shelf program. Citizens State Bank of Waverly president, Brian Matzke, participated in the initiative as board treasure of WCCA. At the time of the program's launch, approximately 50 individuals were enrolled in the program with 1,500 meals delivered per month.
In March 2020, it became clear that COVID-19 was creating a multi-faceted crisis for area senior citizens. They were unwilling to leave their homes for fear of contracting the virus, food became more scarce and higher in price and seniors became isolated and alone in their homes.
Within weeks, more than 1,000 individuals had signed up to have meals delivered to them. This dramatic increase created a challenge for WCCA that called for real creativity and ingenuity to solve.
The local owner of the Waverly Café, looking for ways to keep her staff busy and employed, used her PPP loan funding to have her staff prepare frozen meals to help meet the large demand. Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm had a growing amount of produce they were unable to sell at farm stands so they worked with the Waverly Café to incorporate fresh produce into the meals that were being made.
Delivery to so many people also became an issue. Local public transportation provider Trailblazer Transit was struggling to keep their drivers employed as more people were staying home and didn’t require transportation. They worked with WCCA to develop a delivery route across the entire 714 square mile county.
To help reduce the distance traveled, several freezers were stationed throughout the county, but more freezer space was still needed. WCCA was able to partner with J&B group who provided warehouse space in their facility free of charge.
Finally, the WCCA staff created the Health & Reassurance Call Program, where staff and volunteers contact more than 1,000 senior citizens on a regular basis and letting them know they are not forgotten.
By bringing the community together around a common need, this small nonprofit organization maximized their resources to make a real impact in the lives of seniors living in Wright County.