Pandemic delays Yukon Mobile Meals’ party – again

45th anniversary celebration pushed back; volunteers due individual honors

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Joanne Oltmanns

By Conrad Dudderar

Senior Staff Writer

Yukon Mobile Meals’ 45th anniversary celebration and volunteer appreciation luncheon had originally been set in April.

Then it was moved to next Tuesday, July 28.

Now it won’t be until this fall – at the earliest.

Yukon’s meal delivery program was started in April 1975 by Church Women United, an effort spearheaded by Charlotte Novak and Jean Claire Lawson.

Over the past 45 years, Mobile Meals has provided nutritious lunch meals to Yukon’s elderly, homebound and convalescing residents. Thousands of Yukon residents have benefitted since the program began.

A 45th anniversary celebration/volunteer luncheon at the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore, was originally set this April. There Mobile Meals had planned to honor their Volunteer of the Year and thank their dedicated sponsors and supporters.

But the luncheon – touted as an “indoor hamburger cookout” – was postponed due to the shutdown prompted by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

When Yukon businesses and City of Yukon facilities began reopening, Mobile Meals’ officials rescheduled their annual celebration for July 28.

But plans have changed again.

“It has been postponed indefinitely because of the new City of Yukon (COVID) rules and the limited use of the building,” Yukon Mobile Meals’ director Joanne Oltmanns said. “We felt that it probably wasn’t the time. A lot of people probably won’t be comfortable coming.”

Anyone who enters any City of Yukon building must wear a facemask, according to a newly updated emergency proclamation signed by Mayor Shelli Selby.

“We will still honor our volunteers on an individual basis during the weeks of July 27-31 and Aug. 3-7,” Oltmanns said. “We’ll have special tote bags with appreciation items inside.

“As our volunteers come to deliver their routes and help us in the kitchen, they’ll all be awarded one.”

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VOLUNTEER BASE DOWN

Mobile Meals has 40 regular drivers who run six routes daily. The cook and six helpers comprise the kitchen staff, and there are two retail pickup drivers and one office volunteer.

The program’s volunteer base has declined because of COVID.

“We have between 50 to 60 volunteers now,” Oltmanns said. “Before the pandemic, we had 75 to 100.”

What has helped is that some volunteers have picked up extra routes to deliver meals more frequently.

Mobile Meals’ officials now hope to have an anniversary celebration this October, which was the month the program moved to the Dale Robertson Center in 1997.

The program had previously been housed inside the Yukon Community Center, 2200 S Holly.

COVID-induced crowd restrictions also have suspended a popular Mobile Meals’ fund-raising benefit – a monthly bingo night until further notice. The last bingo event was in April.

“It brought in anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 – that was great – and supplemented our budget,” Oltmanns said.

There is no age limit to be a Mobile Meals’ recipient, and the program relies on donations and fundraisers to operate.

Tax-deductible contributions to Yukon Mobile Meals are always welcome and more volunteers are needed to deliver meals and help in the office and kitchen.

Learn more by calling (405) 350-5901 or visit www.yukonmobilemeals.com