By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Rumor has it that the Grapevine senior nutrition site in Colfax is closing.
The rumor is wrong.
“We are not closing,” stated Nancy Kane, nutrition site coordinator at the Grapevine Senior Center.
The Grapevine is owned by the Colfax Merry Mixers senior citizens group, but the nutrition site is operated by Dunn County.
Kane realized recently that rumors have been floating around Colfax that the nutrition site is closing and will no longer provide hot meals for senior citizens.
The nutrition site has closed in Boyceville but it is most definitely not closing in Colfax, Kane said.
The Colfax nutrition site does, however, have a goal of getting more people into the Grapevine to eat the meals that are provided four days per week, Kane said.
The Grapevine serves a meal at 11:30 a.m. every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“We usually get hot meals all four days,” Kane said.
“The meal maybe is not always going to fit your needs every day, just like when you go to a restaurant and not every meal fits your needs there,” said Nancy Jo Schindler, another volunteer at the Grapevine.
During the summer, when it is hot outside, the meal might be sandwiches with a salad — and root beer floats too, she noted.
“Most of the time we get hot meals. It’s not always meat, mashed potatoes and gravy. Sometimes it’s a casserole, and always a vegetable, and fruit and bread. It’s a balanced meal. And we don’t always get dessert, sometimes we get fruit,” Kane said.
Desserts include apple crisp, peach crisp, cake, or brownies.
“We buy ice cream and always have ice cream with our dessert or with cookies. People don’t starve here,” Kane said.
Meals for diabetics are available as well.
“We also need more volunteers,” Schindler said.
Volunteer work can include helping to deliver Meals on Wheels, packing the meals, setting up the tables or washing the dishes.
Any and all volunteer labor is greatly appreciated, and if someone can only volunteer for one hour one day a week, that’s fine, Schindler said.
Boyceville “to go” meals have been added to Colfax because the nutrition site in Boyceville has been closed, so that means there are more meals to pack up, Kane said.
Volunteers packed 20 meals on Wednesday, January 8.
The volunteers expected to pack even more meals the next day because Thursday is typically a busy day for the nutrition site.
Mondays and Tuesdays are the two busiest days, and volunteers would be especially appreciated on those days, said Vicki DeMoe Froeber, another volunteer at the Grapevine.
“Some people come in just to wash dishes or pack meals. If they don’t want to put in a whole day or a morning, we still have something they can do,” Schindler said.
In addition to the meal that is served at 11:30 a.m., there are also activities scheduled all four days at the Grapevine.
Monday is exercise day. Tuesday is Bible study. Wednesday is devoted to working on a puzzle or to music. And Thursday is “blood pressure day” and Bingo.
EMTs from the Colfax Rescue Squad come to the Grapevine every Thursday.
“The socialization part of it is very important for people to get out. Many of (the people who eat at the Grapevine) are alone because their spouses have passed away,” Kane said.
“And if they can’t drive, we will go and pick them up. If Willie cannot get them, we will have a way to get them here,” Schindler said.
“Willie” is Wilfred Morning, who delivers the Meals on Wheels and also provides transport for those who cannot drive to the Grapevine on their own.
“If Willie cannot pick them up, then someone else from the Grapevine will go and get them,” Schindler said.
“We’re like a little family here,” Kane said.
“People always have so much fun, laughing and talking and visiting,” Froeber said.
Coffee and goodies
In addition to the hot meal provided through Dunn County, volunteers at the Grapevine take turns baking.
Schindler and Froeber bake every Wednesday and Thursday.
“We have treats just about all four days and coffee in the morning. And if there is not something else going on, people sit at the tables and talk. It’s more than a meal. It’s not good for people to be isolated, especially in the winter, and all they have to do is walk from their house to Willie’s vehicle,” Kane said.
The Grapevine can average anywhere from eight people for dinner to 20 — up to 70 when it is a holiday meal for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Karen Fritz, the Wisconsin Nutrition Program Educator, also comes in to do programs and gives demonstrations on how to make different kinds of food.
Fritz is scheduled to visit the Grapevine on January 22, February 19 and April 23.
“I would really like to see us get our numbers up,” Kane said.
“Some of the guys come in at 9:30 and sit and visit and have coffee and treats until it’s time to eat at 11:30,” she said, noting that the door is open at 8:30 a.m.
People from Elk Mound, Sand Creek, Tainter Lake — anywhere within driving distance of Colfax are welcome to come to the Grapevine for the senior nutrition meal.
“If people would just give it a try. Come for a week,” Kane said.
People also bring in produce from their gardens, and the produce — such as tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, apples or squash — is either served with the meal or can be taken home, Schindler said.
Kane, Schindler and Froeber were not sure how long a senior nutrition program has been operating in Colfax.
They did know that the senior nutrition site originally was in the basement of the Colfax Municipal Building.
The basement of the municipal building has not been able to be used for about 15 years because of water damage and mold problems.
“I would hate to ever see the nutrition program close, but it is not closing now,” Kane said.
The suggested price is $3.50 per meal.
“But if someone cannot afford $3.50 and they only have a dollar, no one will know that. No one knows what goes into the box. If someone comes in and they cannot pay at all, they still eat. We will not turn anyone away,” Kane said.
The suggested price of $3.50 per meal is for people 60 and older. Anyone younger than 60 can still eat at the Grapevine, but they pay a higher price of $6.95.
“Colfax is fortunate to have the Grapevine,” Kane said, noting that it is often rented from the Merry Mixers for a variety of activities, such as birthdays, holiday parties, family reunions, and graduation parties.
Meal reservations for the nutrition site are required 24 hours in advance by calling 715-962-2550.
Anyone who would like Meals on Wheels also can contact Kane at 715-962-2550, and she will provide you with a telephone number at the Dunn County Aging and Disability Resource Center so you can register.