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Feeding seniors in need at the Willmar Community Center

The Kandiyohi County Food Shelf partnered with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to provide additional fresh and frozen meals for Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors clients on Tuesday at the Willmar Community Center.

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John Pflibsen of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota prepares frozen meals Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at the Willmar Community Center in Willmar during the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors food pickup. The Kandiyohi County Food Shelf partnered with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to provide additional fresh and frozen meals for program clients. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Fresh and frozen meals were provided Tuesday to older adults eligible for the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors thanks to a partnership between the Kandiyohi County Food Shelf , Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings Foundation. Seniors received their typical program food bundle drive-through style at the Willmar Community Center and were provided 10 additional frozen meals per person from Lutheran Social Service along with a turkey burger lunch cooked on-site by the Minnesota Vikings Foundation. Both Lutheran Social Service and the Minnesota Vikings Foundation reached out to the food shelf to help area seniors in need of food assistance.

This is the first time the Minnesota Vikings Foundation helped with an event to an outstate program. Primarily, the foundation serves youth in the metro area. David Brunette, the foundation's chef, said the foundation recognizes that there's a gap in serving the older population.

"We know there's a lot of need in rural communities, particularly in both youth and older populations. We plan to have several more donations this summer to assist with that," Brunette said.

Approximately 60 people signed up for the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors on Tuesday, according to Alana Ziehl, executive director of the Kandiyohi County Food Shelf.

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"This is definitely an underserved population and we're really happy to be doing this," Ziehl said. "We want more people to know about these programs since many of our community members might be eligible for assistance."

Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors has been distributing at the Willmar Community Center since the beginning of the year in order to make the program more accessible and some of the clients have noticed. Renee Cash, a program client, said she prefers the drive-through as opposed to going directly to the food shelf location in downtown Willmar.

"This program is needed and convenient," Cash said.

Erica Dischino is a photojournalist for the West Central Tribune and Forum News Service. She grew up in northern New Jersey and has lived in the Midwest since 2017. She enjoys photographing the stories of west central Minnesota from county fairs, parades and pandemics. Feel free to contact her at edischino@wctrib.com or 320-894-8865 with your best photo ideas.
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