Home Delivered Meals officially started in the spring of 1971 when Sue Steiner, a Winona Public Health Nurse, brought the idea of providing hot meals to clients unable to make their own meals to a meeting of local service organizations. By that Fall, a board of directors was created, recipients were accepted, volunteers were recruited and the first six meals were delivered.
The original supplier of the meals was Watkins Home. When the program outgrew the Watkins kitchen in 1972, Winona State University prepared the regular meals while Watkins Home prepared the diet meals. Then in 1978 Community Memorial Hospital provided the diet meals when Watkins Home could no longer handle the numbers of meals served. When the program was first founded meals cost $1.25.
Just to clarify, this is not the same program as “Meals on Wheels”. It was never subsidized in any way by the Federal Government, nor was it ever connected with SEMCAC. Originally financed by membership dues and special contributions, the program came under the umbrella of Winona Volunteer Services sometime in 1984.
This program was founded by volunteers and continues to rely heavily on volunteer support. In November 1971, 159 meals were delivered; in 1985 18,217; in 2006 26,382 meals were delivered. Today, we have 11 routes with approximately 8- 15 stops per route. It takes a minimum of 55 volunteers per week to serve an average of 114 daily clients with 21,381 meals throughout the year.