An $8,000 grant from United Way of Southwest Minnesota?to the Prairie Five Community Action Council will aid scores of community volunteers with the delivery of meals to hundreds of individuals 60 years and older within Yellow Medicine County.
“It’s the first time we received a grant like this and we feel it’s very fortunate that they looked at us and felt what we were doing was valuable, said Prairie Five Associate Director Gale Jerve.
Specifically, Jerve says the grant will be utilized to cover the mileage expense of volunteers who make food deliveries from a handful of central kitchens spread throughout the county. The longest delivery any one volunteer makes is about 32 miles, round trip, she said.
According to organization Executive Director Ruth Ascher, United Way of Southwest Minnesota has recently placed an emphasis on funding projects that increase nutrition awareness and outreach, particularly with hunger related grants.
“One of the things we had looked at was the whole issue of independence for seniors and those with disabilities. We asked:?what could be done to help keep them in their home?” At least one answer was found in Prairie Five, Ascher said.
In all, there are some 500 volunteers who participate in the program throughout the five county area, noted Jerve. In YMC alone, over 40,000 meals get delivered to some 350 - 400 individuals over the course of one year.
In addition to its senior nutrition program, which includes senior meal site services in Granite Falls and Clarkfield, Prairie Five offers a variety of other programs, from Energy Assistance to Head Start, over a five county area. Yellow Medicine sits as the southern most county of this group, which includes Chippewa, Big Stone, Lac qui Parle and Swift counties.
According to Jerve, the United Way grant will serve only the individuals of Yellow Medicine because it is the lone county in which the two organizations’ service areas overlap. United Way of Southwest Minnesota is, conversely, at its northern most reach in Yellow Medicine. Lincoln, Lyon, Murray and western Redwood counties comprise its remaining area of influence.
An autonomous, local organization led by a diverse group of volunteers from various community sectors, United Way’s mission to “improve lives in southwest Minnesota by mobilizing the caring power of our communities.”
Prior to awarding the grant to Prairie Five, Jerve said that she was impressed with United Way’s thorough vetting process. Likewise, United Way of Southwest Minnesota Executive Director noted that volunteers who reviewed Prairie Five’s request were left impressed.
“They gave very high marks for the application and the services they provide,” said Ascher. “I feel like it’s going to be money that has been well spent and that there is going to be good accountability that gets the services to where they’re needed the most.”