Manager for local meal delivery program invites people in the community to be volunteer drivers

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

Having a lack of mobility makes it difficult for many people to live independently in their homes. In Albert Lea, Meals on the Go is seeking to alleviate some of these challenges.

Meals on the Go is a private program that delivers meals to people who are unable to prepare food for themselves. The program is open to people 60 years of age and older, as well as people with disabilities that limit their means of shopping and cooking.

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The program works as a branch of Meals on Wheels of America. The main difference is that Meals on the Go delivers meals exclusively to those in the Albert Lea city limits while Meals on Wheels delivers to surrounding towns and areas.

Alden-native Janelle Jacobs has been the site manager for Meals on the Go since September 2023. It was at this time that Semcac took over the program.

Semcac is a community action agency that offers services in southeastern Minnesota counties, according to Previously, Meals on the Go had been working from Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea. According to Jacobs, availability at the hospital shifted and Semcac wanted to ensure that Meals on the Go remained in the Albert Lea area. Jacobs also said that the number of clients has doubled since Semcac took over the program.

Jacobs explained that Meals on the Go is in need of volunteer drivers for Thursdays as well as substitute drivers without a set schedule. Delivering meals takes about an hour of time. Drivers are required to have a valid driver’s license and vehicle. They also must be friendly and understanding as they will be visiting people who are experiencing loneliness.

“A lot of these people, this is the only person they see all day. So it’s not just a meal,” said Jacobs. “We check on them to make sure that they’re OK.”

Some exceptional volunteers go beyond what is expected and help clients by grabbing their mail or taking out their garbage for them. These simple actions provide a huge help to people with mobility restrictions.

“It is a huge thing that these drivers go out and do,” Jacobs said. “My drivers are fantastic, every single one of them. … It makes me so excited that they take the time out of their day to make sure the people are OK.”

Sometimes a client will call Jacobs to let her know how grateful they are for the work Meals on the Go does.

“They appreciate it a whole bunch,” she said.

According to the Meals on the Go information brochure, the program not only helps clients with getting the food they need, it also allows “seniors to continue to be contributing members of their community as well as live out the independent lives they deserve and enjoy.”

People who are interested in becoming a volunteer or who want to learn more information can contact Jacobs by email at or by phone at 507-860-2796.

“We would love more volunteers,” Jacobs said. For clients, “it’s more than just running somebody a meal,” she said. It shows them that “they’re not alone out there.”