Guest commentary: Meals on Wheels serves the greater good ofAustin

Published 6:08 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Brian Johnson

“Hey, buddy, can you help me out a little today?”

I noticed that the gentleman was using a walker today—something that was not typical for him.

Email newsletter signup

“Sure,” I said. “what do you need?”

“Well, if you could just move my garbage can out to the street, that would be great.”

That seemed like an easy ask and I told him I’d be happy to.  As I walked over to the curb, I noticed the morning newspaper on the snow-covered driveway.  I figured it would probably lay there unread for a while with the owner unable to get outside so I grabbed it and went back to the door. The man was still there, watching my progress on the garbage can.

“Thank you so much,” he said.

“Anything else you need?”

“No, that should do it—thanks again!” With that, I made my way (carefully) back to the car and on to my next delivery.

The small encounter I had that day is typical for many of the faithful who serve the Hot Meals on Wheels of Austin program. Yes, our main task is delivering meals five days a week, but we have also had drivers assist in shoveling snow, taking out the garbage, mowing the occasional lawn, tend to something that needs fixing, or simply stopping a moment for a short chat.  Since 1972, this program has existed for people who still live in their own homes or apartments, but may need another healthy meal or two, at an affordable price, that can help keep them in those homes. The many volunteers who keep the organization humming — drivers, kitchen crews at Mayo Hospital and Sacred Heart Care Center, or board members and weekly coordinators—are all connected to the many people served, whether it is through behind-the-scenes work or their physical presence at homes every day. In 2023 almost 13,000 meals were delivered.

HMOW of Austin has also continued, for the fourth year in a row, the tradition of delivering bags containing many shelf-stable items that can be used on snow days, holidays, or even weekends if the need arises.

Thanks to generous community donations including ones from Hormel Helping Hands Committee and Austin Area Foundation, this past week the board was able to purchase food to fill 96 bags — enough for each one of our current customers as well as many future customers.   

HMOW includes volunteers of all ages: we have young children helping their parents on routes as well as someone in their 90s.

No matter what the age, or how long they’ve been participating, all of our drivers deliver not only meals, but a sense of community and connection. If you would like to volunteer a small amount of your time, whether it’s one hour a week on a regular route, or as a substitute driver, please call 507-438-3140 or visit our website at We’d love for you to join our team.