Meals on Wheels a moving experience for local volunteers

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With summer just around the corner, the local Meals on Wheels (MOW) program is seeking volunteers who are willing to deliver affordable, hot, nutritious meals to a range of clients, including older adults, adults with disabilities, or those recovering from illness or surgery.

Many regular volunteers go up to the lake during summer months making it harder for the local food delivery program to find drivers, said Nicole Piotrowski, the new supervisor at La Verendrye General Hospital now in charge of the volunteer portion of Meals on Wheels Fort Frances.

“Right now, we are delivering 40 meals on our busiest day, which is Fridays,” she said. “I have had the pleasure of delivering meals, it is a very enjoyable experience.”

MOW has collaborated with both groups and individuals in the past. Since the former school board staff member who had been leading MOW at Fort Frances High School moved onto a different opportunity, high school students haven’t participated in MOW, said David Black, director of community services at Riverside Health Care.

Describing what the volunteer role looks like on a daily basis, Piotrowski said meals are ready to be picked up at 11 a.m. and volunteers can choose their preferred routes.

“They can either do west or east or both, whichever they prefer. We have a clipboard for each east and west with the schedule. Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays are our bigger days, we have quite a few clients in Flinders,” she said.

“I believe it’s fairly easy to do, it’s enjoyable to deliver meals to those who need it — I don’t want to say elderly as we do have a few client that are ‘young’ but are not able to prepare their own meals, knowing that they are getting a good nutritious meal from us for a decent price and delivered right to them,” Piotrowski said.

The program is always open to new volunteers, even if they can only commit to a few days during the summer months.

“I found when delivering meals, everyone is so happy to see a new smiling face delivering their meal and making a short conversation with them, you can tell it makes their day,” Piotrowski said.

Ann Anderson is one of the dedicated MOW volunteers and has been delivering meals every day of the week, something that has become a key part of her daily routine since her retirement.

“I noticed other people do it through their clubs but I decided on my own,” she said, adding that a notice in the paper had caught her eye.

Throughout the months of volunteering, Anderson became very familiar with the streets in town and also the people and their preferences.

“You gotta know the streets, I used the GPS the first two weeks I did it,” she said. “But also, getting to know the people. Whether they’re going to answer the door, whether you should just keep it at the doorknob.”

“I really really enjoy it,” Anderson said. “They are really grateful to get the meals and I’ve never encountered anybody who was unappreciative. I think that’s why I keep doing it, because I just enjoy serving people.”

Delivering during snowstorm seasons often made her delivery routes more difficult, but since it’s now summer, Anderson said she looks forward to easier drives and seeing familiar faces from the senior community.

“There were times where I couldn’t even get close to the house so I had to park a little farther and just walk,” she said at the time of the interview. “But I delivered today actually. I really enjoy it. Like I say, the people are great. They try to give me gifts with people that I go to quite often.”

Anderson was a speech language pathologist working with stroke patients before her retirement. Working with both elderly and disabled populations showed her the various challenges they experienced on a daily basis which further fuels her belief that MOW is an essential program for the community.

“There’s a real need in that some people are not able to make their own food, first of all, and some people don’t have family members around. So I think it’s a needed service because not everyone can make their own meals,” she said. “It’s a very necessary program to allow seniors or people that can’t get out of the house the ability to stay home.”

In addition to the meal deliveries, Anderson noted that many clients appreciate the social interaction they get when food is delivered.

“The problem is you can’t spend a lot of time because you have to keep moving. But just some of these people probably don’t get a lot of visitors. So spending a couple of minutes just greeting them and talking about the weather, just remembering things of what they told you to sort of talk a little bit about that. That’s what it is, it’s the people,” she said.

Anyone interested in getting involved with MOW can reach out to Nicole Piotrowski at 807-274-3266, ext. 4818, or email at