LOGAN – Kris Albretsen, the Cache County Senior Citizen Center’s Meals on Wheels Coordinator, is retiring September 30th after 32 years of working with Cache County.
Meals on Wheels delivers hot, nutritious noontime meals to eligible residents throughout Cache County with the help of many volunteers.
The program is a federal/state program designed to assist qualifying seniors that are 60 years and older who are home-bound, disabled, frail or at risk.
Albretsen started as a part time Meals on Wheels driver and worked her way to the coordinator position. She has a white board behind her desk with the names of the drivers and the days and routes they drive for the week. Across from this board, she has a map with a pin for every person the program delivers meals to. It is all organized.
“In 1999, I was still a part time driver when I was asked to develop small routes with a volunteer system to deliver food to seniors,” she said. “When we fazed in the volunteer program, we didn’t have any trouble getting drivers, almost immediately we had a people volunteering to drive.
“Sometimes it’s been a struggle to find people to replace drivers or volunteers who quit,” Albretsen added. “Today, we have 85 drivers who deliver around 145 meals a day, five days a week.”
Some drivers deliver one meal a day, some once a week and some do more.
“We deliver meals Monday through Friday, with a suggested donation of $3 per meal, but we take what they give,” Albretsen said. “The number of meals fluctuates from month to month.”
She is grateful for the volunteers that take time to deliver the meals.
“I had one come in today and say she gets more out of it than the people she takes the meal to,” she said. “The majority of the volunteers enjoy delivering meals.”
Albretsen said she enjoys getting acquainted with the different drivers; they usually have a pretty good visit.
Meals on Wheels has a two-part focus: one is making sure clients get a hot nutritious meal, the other is to check on the well-being of the senior.
All the meals are cooked at the Senior Citizen Center and packaged on site. They are then put into insulated containers for delivery.
“I set up the routes and put the meals in an insulated carrying case,” Albretsen said. “We service the whole county with rural areas within a stone’s throw of the Idaho border, to past Avon to the south.”
There are 12 routes, with two trucks that go out into the county, the other 11 routes are mini routes. Volunteers use their own cars on mini routes.
“We have insulated bags for both hot and cold food,” she said. “I heat rocks to go in the bottom of the insulated bags to keep the meals warm and we have blue ice for the cold meals.
“I enjoy working with the volunteers and most are seniors,” she said. “I also like making contact with the clients and getting to know the different people.”
Giselle Madrid, director of the Senior Center, said Albretsen will be missed.
“She’s done an important work that is vital to the needs of the home-bound seniors,” Madrid said. “She has love and compassion for all of the clients.”
The director said Albertsen knows all of the clients and could walk into to any of their homes and be welcomed.
“She is a very kind, patient and understanding person,” Madrid said. “She shares her compassion with everyone.”
If someone is curious to know if they might qualify to receive Meals on Wheels, they are encouraged to contact the Cache County Senior Citizens Center at (435) 755-1720.
Jaycee Harrison will replace Albretsen as the new director for the Meals on Wheels program. Harrison is a 2017 graduate of Utah State University.