Senior Dining staying, growing in Maple Lake


Every week day, staff and volunteers with Maple Lake Senior Dining prepare about 140 meals for local diners, as well as those in Annandale, Buffalo, Kimball and Monticello.
Mere months ago, local organizers didn’t know if that would be the case.
“With the sequester, Catholic Charities was thinking of what to do to save money,” Maple Lake Senior Dining Coordinator Lori Hegle said of funding cuts that forced the organization to restructure. “Between Maple Lake and Buffalo, we would have never been closed, but could have lost our kitchen.”
Ultimately, the powers that be decided to have the area’s meals prepared in Maple Lake.
“I think the big reason is location, because we’re closer to Annandale and Kimball,” Hegle said. “Combining sites brought costs down.”
Local Senior Dining staff and volunteers were already preparing meals for the Annandale and Kimball Senior Dining sites, but added between 35 and 40 meals for two sites in Monticello and another site in Buffalo in December.
At the same time, the faces of kitchen staff also changed.
“Shelly and Judy left to pursue other things, so that got the ball moving and made it move a little quicker,” Hegle said.
Bonnie Eastham, formerly of Bonnie’s Maple Lake Café, and Jo Gehrke now occupy the local kitchen during lunchtime.
“I have a gentleman who lives here and is really excited to hear that Bonnie’s back,” Hegle said. “He used to go to the café a lot. He comes every day now. Bonnie’s a very good cook. Trust me, I’ve tried it.”