This article originally appeared as part of the story Shades of Gray in the May 2019 issue.
“We have a map of where our volunteers and clients live. The different-colored dots overlap quite a bit. A lot of times—especially in our area—people don’t know if their neighbors are struggling,” says ICA Food Shelf communications specialist Monika Salden. “It’s a seemingly affluent area. There’s this feeling that it’s not okay to ask for help.”
Ten percent of ICA Food Shelf clients are over 65, up three percent from 2013. Of all visitors surveyed in 2018, 42 percent visited sporadically, meaning they visit three or fewer times a year. (Often an unanticipated illness or emergency changed their financial situation short-term, making it hard to put food on the table.)
“We’re set up like a grocery store. There’s always fresh produce, meat, protein, dairy—not as many choices, maybe, but all the same major categories are ticked,” says Salden. Clients can choose foods they enjoy and know how to cook. If they can’t make it in to shop for food themselves, they can request a visit from the Mobile Food Shelf, which serves three apartment buildings (mostly seniors) or home delivery. And the only requirement for clients taking advantage of food services is that they live in ICA’s service area. “We trust that if you say you need food, you need food,” Salden adds.
ICA is also equipped to be a starting point for employment assistance—including among later-career adults who are retirement age but still need to work—and homelessness prevention. They can help seniors apply for NAPS (Nutritional Assistance Program for Seniors) or get senior Metro Transit rides, which cost only a dollar.
On the flip side—the other dots on the ICA map—are the hundreds of volunteers who help keep the doors open. They’re an increasingly older group, and volunteering has benefits of its own. For many, it’s a regular opportunity to get out of the house, socialize with others, and feel a sense of purpose. For seniors in the area, it’s a win-win.
ICA Food Shelf
11588 K-Tel Drive, Minnetonka
Other Resources for Seniors
The Landing Shop
Through a unique program facilitated by the City of Minnetonka, residents 55 and up can sell handmade items at the Landing Shop in return for volunteer hours or a small fee. From wooden toys to doll clothing, from greeting cards to agates from Lake Superior, every purchase is one-of-a-kind and supports local seniors. And the browsing is half the fun. The shop is open Wednesday through Sunday.
The Landing Shop
11280 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka
Join the Club
Check your Minnetonka Memo for the “Senior Script” insert, pick up a copy at the Minnetonka Community Center, sign up for email delivery, or download issues from the website. In the free monthly insert, you’ll find info about upcoming senior events, trips and classes offered by the City of Minnetonka. Join a birdwatching club. Take yoga or t’ai chi. Tour the historic churches of Minneapolis. Monthly $6 Lunch and a Movie events are very popular and usually hit their 120 capacity quickly.
“We have a very active group of seniors in this area, and there’s always something going on at the Community Center,” says community facilities administrative coordinator Kate Egert. “There are no joining fees. It’s a pay-as-you-go program, and people can come as their schedules allow.” Best of all, you don’t even have to be a resident of Minnetonka—so if you live in a neighboring community or have a friend in the area, you don’t need to miss out on the fun.
Minnetonka Community Center
14600 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka