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Senior grocery delivery expands to Cloquet

Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Groceries-to-Go volunteers Jane and Dave Wedin meet to discuss their shopping lists at the Kenwood Super One Foods store in Duluth on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The program, which supports local business and helps older adults stay in their homes, has expanded to the Superior Super One Foods store on Oakes Avenue.1 / 2
Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Groceries-to-Go volunteer Jane Wedin checks an item off one of her grocery lists while shopping for clients at the Kenwood Super One Foods store in Duluth on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The program, which supports local business and helps older adults stay in their homes, has expanded to the Superior Super One Foods store on Oakes Avenue. 2 / 2

A grocery shopping and delivery service for older adults and those who can't get out to shop for themselves is expanding to Cloquet.

Age Well Arrowhead has been offering Groceries-to-Go since December 2016.

"We started the program through a grant from the Department of Human Services because we recognized that grocery shopping and transportation were two of the most-needed services to help older adults remain independent," Executive Director Mary Bovee said.

The nonprofit partnered with Super One Foods to shop out of the west Duluth store. A recent grant of $300,000 over two years allowed the program to expand to Super One Foods stores in Cloquet, Superior and Duluth's Kenwood neighborhood Oct. 1.

"We would have done it regardless," Bovee said. "It's very needed. It's very affordable. It's very easy to access and use."

Age Well Arrowhead bills clients $15 for each shop and Super One bills them for the groceries. There's no commitment of any kind, Bovee said. Clients can register and use the service only when they need it. No computer access is necessary.

Volunteers like Carol Cheslak call clients weekly to see if they want to place an order.

"It's my Tuesday morning. I come take grocery orders," Cheslak said. "I look forward to it. You try to help them out. They're very appreciative."

The shopping takes place Wednesday or Thursday. Volunteers spend about an hour shopping and delivering groceries to their neighbors.

"We've done everything on our end to make this order easy to shop," Bovee said, including spreading the shopping out to more stores.

Armed with lists, Dave and Jane Wedin added items to a pair of grocery carts at the Kenwood store Wednesday: grapes, a frozen turkey, milk, bananas.

"I always equate this to a scavenger hunt, because the others shop for different things than what I shop for," Jane Wedin said, heading to the produce section. "So there's still a certain amount of getting my bearings."

Although she's been grocery shopping for years, it's a learning experience.

"There's so many thing I have never shopped for," Wedin said. "I come here and think 'Wow, it's a whole new world.'"

The retired couple have been volunteer shoppers since the program began.

"It gives us something to do together," Dave Wedin said. "And just helping people who can't get out. Then you go and you see what some of these people have in their homes. Most of them don't have much and they're not able to get out. Plus we check on them. Make sure they're good."

Of the new locations, only the Kenwood store has welcomed volunteer shoppers.

Since it began, Groceries-to-Go has delivered 1,440 grocery orders.

"That's a lot of food getting to people that might not otherwise have ready access," said Kim Hileman, program director. "The need is real."

So is the thanks. Hileman dropped off two bags of groceries to Eloise Pass at The Shores assisted living center Wednesday. When Hileman told her that she was able to find the peanut butter and chocolate dipped pretzels Pass ordered, the older woman clapped her hands.

"Yay," she said. "Oh, people love that."

Pass said she appreciates the Groceries-to-Go service.

"People who live in assisted living can no longer drive to get their supplies, and so if somebody will bring those things right to their door, it is a big help," she said. "I don't do much cooking, but you know you need a lot of paper products and things, even though you don't cook."

And snacks and coffee are a must-have for visitors, she said.

"Did you want to try one?" Pass asked, holding up the bag of pretzels.

As Jane Wedin shopped Wednesday, an older couple and Jodi Libey, a clinical dietician with Essentia Health, approached to ask about the program.

""That's is so needed," Libey said as she took down the Age Well Arrowhead number. "Anything we can do to keep people in their homes and happy."

It's a service children can set up for their parents, or it can be gifted to an elderly neighbor.

"Sure it's something that families can do, but the thing I always remind people is save the family for the important stuff that only family can do," Wedin said. "Anybody can go grocery shopping."

The mission of Age Well Arrowhead is to connect older adults and caregivers to services that support healthy aging and independence. Groceries-to-Go fits that description, Bovee said, and offers a fulfilling volunteer opportunity.

"If they could shop for two or three people, it would make the biggest impact in the whole world," she said. "And it would take them an hour. And the reward you get when you deliver these groceries, amazing. It's the best."

Call 218-623-7800 or visit agewellarrowhead.org for more information.