RSVP Volunteers Deliver Meals and Friendships

According to the National Meals on Wheels website ( there are 10.2 million seniors nationwide who are struggling with hunger, 15.7 million seniors nationwide who are isolated or living alone and there are 18.7 million seniors nationwide who are living in or near poverty. One program addressing these issues is the Meals on Wheels Program.

Currently in Minnesota, there are 12,165 seniors who receive Meals on Wheels. You might wonder, "how do the meals get to seniors throughout our community?" Locally, meals are delivered by volunteers. Many of the volunteers delivering meals in Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties volunteer through the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) (Lisa J. Braun, Director). In 2016, 81 RSVP volunteers delivered meals to 641 older adults! This amounts to 2,359.50 hours of service to our community’s seniors!

RSVP volunteer, Denny Hove, has been delivering Meals on Wheels throughout the Elk River area for over four years. Denny volunteers to deliver meals 3-4 days per week, delivering up to 20 meals per day to older adults in our community!

Denny’s volunteer journey started when he offered to deliver meals through his church. When the need arose for more volunteers to deliver meals throughout the area he offered to take on more routes and he joined RSVP as a way to get connected to this opportunity. Denny shared “I really enjoy delivering Meals on Wheels. I wanted to get out into the community and I continue [to volunteer] because the people receiving the meals are very thankful for them.” Denny observes that a lot clients who he delivers meals to often don’t see anyone else, other than him, on a typical day. “It’s not just me delivering a meal, it’s really a health check, too. I always try to see the person who I am delivering to so I know they are okay. I visit with them and get going on my way.”

One of Denny’s favorite memories from volunteering involves a gentleman who he often delivers meals to. Denny states this gentleman does not have a lot of people to talk to and if it weren’t for him receiving Meals on Wheels, the only person he would see on a regular basis is a health nurse who visits a few times per week. Denny strategically saves this client for last delivery on his route so the two men can spend some time visiting and “bantering” with each other, as he described it. Denny laughed and shared a story from a few years back when he was delivering a roast beef meal to the client. Denny told the gentleman “you’re lucky I didn’t have a fork and knife in my car or I would have ate your meal because it smells so good.” The gentleman laughed and gave him a hard time about how delicious the meal was going to be. The next time roast beef was being served Denny requested the kitchen to make a plate of just side vegetables. Denny delivered the side vegetables to the gentleman and told him he had been hungry on his route and ate the roast beef. The two laughed as Denny handed the client the rest of his meal and left thinking the joke was over. However, the client had other plans. About two weeks went by and Denny was delivering a meal when the gentleman handed him a bag of beef jerky. Denny inquired what this was all about. The client slyly told him, “here is the roast beef you delivered a few weeks ago, I thought you may want it.” The two shared a laugh and Denny thought this was pretty clever. Had this gentleman not been a Meals on Wheels recipient he would not have anyone to share these amusing jokes and laughs with.

As you can see, RSVP volunteers greatly impact the lives of so many individuals just like the gentleman who Denny delivers meals to. Denny expressed “it [volunteering to deliver meals] gets me out of bed and gets me going every day.” Denny also said while he reaps the benefit from volunteering, the clients who he delivers to definitely reap many benefits as well. This is definitely true as studies have shown that nine out of ten Meals on Wheels recipients feel safer and secure in their home as a result of the Meals on Wheels program.

If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of local seniors, consider volunteering as a Meals on Wheels driver! To get started please contact RSVP at (320)255-7295 for more information about available positions and routes, or visit RSVP online at

-Jacquie Willis