Category Archives: Better With Food

Tapping experience and a service heart

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Mary Lou has seen some of this before, back in the 1970s. That experience motivates her to deliver meals to fellow residents of Vista Prairie at River Heights. Her years helping to operate the Lakeview residence in Virginia, on Minnesota’s Iron Range, provide perspective for the needs where she lives now in South St Paul.

“We had 18 or 19 residents living on three floors, no elevators and no air conditioning,” Mary Lou recalls about her days in Virginia. “We did 24-hour care — food was provided, medications, outings. It was like an assisted living facility.”

She and her husband were both registered nurses, working in Minneapolis, “We went to Lake Vermillion on a vacation and absolutely fell in love with the area. Within six months we were up North.”

And six years later, they owned the Lakeview residence. With her added experience owning and running a restaurant in nearby Biwabik, volunteering to help at River Heights amid the added food service responsibilities is a “no-brainer.”

“I live here, and I’m pretty much available,” she says. “I decided I would offer my services and they could utilize me.”

An accident in her Biwabik home compelled the assisted living move for Mary Lou. Her son and daughter-in-law, back in the Twin Cities, convinced her that being closer was better than being four hours away. “My son is wonderful support,” she says. “He and his wife and my two grandchildren keep me active and alive and happy.”

Mary Lou says she also enjoys seeing fellow residents on a different basis when she puts on her mask and delivers a meal. “We’re seeing each other more than just at activities or in the dining room. We talk about things every time I visit.”

The gardens at River Heights are coming alive again this spring. And inside, this warm and welcoming community offers assisted living in 44 apartments, as well as 16 memory care suites. Want to learn more about River Heights? Call Danielle at 651-326-6501.

Lessons from a quarantine past

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Here’s Culinary Manager Amanda Sundrin as she delivers a snack to Anitra, a resident of Vista Prairie at Copperleaf in Willmar. She and her late husband Duane moved in three years ago, following Anitra’s retirement as an elementary school teacher in several nearby communities.

She recently began life’s journey as a single woman again since Duane’s death last December, after being together for 69 years. However, in all her 94 years, it’s probably her experience one spring as a pre-teen that prepared her best for this pandemic experience.

“I had scarlet fever and our family was quarantined,” Anitra recalls. “We could not go anyplace. My older sister had to move out and live with my Aunt, because she was going to graduate from high school that year. My mother had to keep my dishes separate from everybody else and she would leave my meals at the top of the stairs.”

Those childhood memories give Anitra perspective on why Copperleaf is taking the precaution now to deliver meals and snacks to each resident’s apartment.

“It’s a very nice thing that they are doing, to keep us distancing,” she says. “Those culinary workers make sure that we have what we need and what we want. They are wonderful people.”

Before his death, Duane’s dementia made it necessary for him to live in Copperleaf’s memory care unit, a painful separation for Anitra. Her community of support means a lot to her.

“I have nothing but praise for the staff here at Copperleaf,” she concludes. “Not just now with this virus but from the minute we moved in, everything has been just wonderful.”

Copperleaf senior living community offers 55 one-and-two-bedroom Assisted Living apartments, seven Care Suites, providing 24-hour continuous senior care, and 20 Memory Care Suites.

Community Connections

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Cally Endres (right) fielded the call at Windmill Ponds in Alexandria. It came from the nearby Community Behavioral Health Hospital (CBHH), operated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the first of six such hospitals in the state. They were inquiring whether Windmill Ponds had excess capacity to supply meals from its kitchen.

Cally had recently joined Windmill Ponds as the Culinary Manager. It was a perfect match for her skill-set, as her formal education was in Dietetics. That call began a nearly two-year service relationship, for Windmill Ponds to provide three meals and two snacks, each day, for the CBHH. Cally was recently promoted to Business Office Manager for Windmill Ponds, but carefully monitors the relationship, along with her successor in the kitchen, Becky Sheggeby (left).

“We take pride in the quality of our food for residents,” says Cally. “We enjoy being able to meet the needs for another location as well. This relationship helps us accomplish our goal to be more closely connected with the community.”

Windmill Ponds is in a quiet neighborhood on the east side of Alexandria. It offers 65 one-and-two-bedroom apartments, designed for seniors who want an active lifestyle with access to the care they need.

Want to learn more about Windmill Ponds? Cally’s direct number is 320-815-3279. She also might share a favorite recipe.

March is National Nutrition Month

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Did you know? March is National Nutrition Month.

With Spring’s arrival we’re all looking forward to green sprouts on the horizon. In fact, Spring may have inspired The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to initiate “National Nutrition Month” in March – a time to anticipate new growth and new thoughts about what we eat. Continue reading “March is National Nutrition Month” »

Fun Fall Snacks for Seniors

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Have you felt a little extra chill in the air recently? Well, that’s because September 22 was the official first day of fall!

Fall is not only a beautiful season to enjoy visually, the food it brings is also delicious! From fresh, crisp apples to the sweet taste of cinnamon. With the weather changing, why not change your snacking choices too?

Continue reading “Fun Fall Snacks for Seniors” »