Meals on Wheels serving up problems on the Iron Range

By KBJR News 1

July 2, 2014 Updated Jul 2, 2014 at 7:49 PM CST

Cook, MN (NNCNOW.com)--- Lance Ulen's mother Patricia is one of sixteen elderly residents in Cook Minnesota that relies on Meals On Wheels delivery services.

"All of these people are elderly and it's not just my mother that is in need of these meals, it's the way things, how things went down," said Lance Ulen.

Just last week, The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency terminated the Meals on Wheels Head Cook citing months long performance issues.

At the same, the assistant cook and lone volunteer quit, putting the agency in a major bind.

"Since then we've been trying to figure out alternative food service until we can get someone else hired," said Marilyn Ocepek, Director of Senior Services for AEOA>

But the sixteen residents who rely on that one homecooked meal a day, have had to go without it since June 27.

"We started calling those clients immediately to see if they had food in their home," said Ocepek.

But Ulen says that's not doing enough, and says the agency should have been prepared.

"If this cook was gonna be fired, there should have been a plan , there should have been another cook in place to take over," said Ulen.

Ulen's 82-year-old mother Patricia says it has been hard for the elderly at the Pioneer and Homestead buildings to go without the meal deliveries.

"It just kind of gets to where you depend on having the routine, and like the meals come about 11 o clock every morning and they're always there," said Patricia Ulen.

In the meantime, the AEOA has reached out to the Cook Hospital and Montana Cafe for assistance in providing meals.

"We may end up having our Mountain Iron site prepare the meals, we still have that option and we could deliver, in insulated containers, hot meals on Monday if we had to."

The AEOA did get manage to deliver some frozen meals Wednesday in Cook that they hope will last throughout the weekend, but Ocepek says come Monday they are back to square one.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati
rmarnati@kbjr.com