KA Has Heart Spotlight: Open Arms of MN
by Brenden Nickels
Brenden Nickels is senior office assistant at Kraus-Anderson headquarters in Minneapolis.
We all know how important it is to have food available in your life. But what if you had a life threatening illness that made it difficult for you to get the food that you needed? Fortunately, there is an organization that Kraus-Anderson is proud to volunteer with that does provide free meals to those in that type of situation, Open Arms of MN.
Open Arms’ History
Open Arms was founded in 1986 by Bill Rowe, when he started to make meals for some of his neighbors that had AIDS, who was too sick to cook themselves. They have since expanded to serving those living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, COPD, heart failure, and kidney failure, as well as caregivers and dependents of these patients.
“We are currently serving about 1400 clients per week, which translates into over 15,000 meals per week made in our kitchens and delivered to clients,” says Open Arms CEO, Leah Hebert Welles. “Over the last four years, 60 Kraus-Anderson employees have dedicated nearly 150 hours of service to supporting made-from-scratch meal production within our kitchen. In just one 2-hour volunteer shift alone, employees prepared nearly 600 delicious treats and supported the production of 800 nutritious meals for our clients living with life-threatening illnesses.”
To receive meals from Open Arms, you need to have one of the illness mentioned above, and cannot shop or cook for yourself or have a special nutritional status. Open Arms customers enjoy a variety of different types of meals that they can customize, based on their conditions. For instance, if a customer is allergic or intolerant to dairy, there’s a special menu for them, as there is for those who are vegans, those who can only eat bland foods, and those that need their food pureed, to name a few.
Volunteers have many jobs at Open Arms, such as preparing the meals, delivering the meals, growing vegetables in its own urban garden, or working in the office. Shifts are available six days a week, for two hours each. You can register as an individual or a part of a group. The minimum age for volunteering is 16, but kids can also participate if they have an adult with them, completed an orientation, as well as have a waiver signed by their mother and/or father.
How COVID-19 has Impacted Open Arms’ Food Production
However, with the coronavirus pandemic, Hebert Welles notes that they, like everyone else, have had to change everything about how they do their business. We have reduced our volunteer numbers so that we can keep people socially distanced in our kitchens, which has resulted in a massive reduction of hands helping prepare food. We need volunteers to fill volunteer shifts now more than ever, since we have fewer volunteers. Given that we have seen a 30% increase in clients since February, and experienced an increase in costs related to ingredients, PPE and other COVID-related expenses, we hope that people will continue their generosity and also consider financially supporting our work.”
Open Arms’ mission, is “to nourish the body, mind, and soul.” And when we volunteer there, we are not just feeding the sick, we are also feeding our own minds at the same time.
Source: https://www.openarmsmn.org/View Comments