Ron LeSech loaded up his shopping bag with frozen chicken breast, a cauliflower, a spaghetti and butternut squash, a bag each of potatoes, onions and carrots and a box of whole wheat pasta for his housebound Aunt Pat.
“It’s my good deed of the day,” he said. “She called and told me to get down here. This is going to mean she doesn’t have to get somebody to go shopping for her. She can use a little assistance sometimes.”
Nearly 200 people received similar bags of food on Monday, Oct. 3, courtesy of the Dinner on Us program sponsored jointly by UnitedHealthcare and Feeding America.
“Dinners on Us is my baby,” said Renee Ladewig-Lathrop of UnitedHealthcare. “We were looking for ways to help food insecure families. Obviously in the line of business we’re in we know that when you’re dealing with health issues and your income is an issue, there are a lot of barriers to getting food on your table. This is just one of the things we do for food insecurity.”
Ladewig-Lathrop proposed to the powers that be at UnitedHealthcare that they team up with Feeding America to provide bags of fresh, healthy food to people in need.
“The whole wheat pasta, some people cringe at it a little bit, but maybe if they try it they will get a taste for it and mix whole wheat pasta into their diet. We try to introduce them to some produce,” she said. “We started pretty small and now we do 4,000 meal bags every year. I love it. It’s one of my hardest and most rewarding months of the year.”
She said this was the third year of coming to the NWTC campus in Sturgeon Bay.
“It’s never a guarantee that we’ll come back to the same place, but we’ve been at NWTC for three years,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people who come through say ‘I was here last year’.”
Ladewig-Lathrop said her company gladly got on board the annual food distribution program.
“Our part of UnitedHealthcare, we’re really interested in being innovative and helping to solve social issues, doing more ‘outside of the box’ things with housing, homelessness, food insecurity, justice, so really they have the hunger, literally and figuratively, and they just needed people like me who had the ability and time to make it happen. Especially when someone is sick, to be struggling with so many social barriers as well, it’s overwhelming. So that’s what we’re here for. Our mission is to help people live healthier lives. It’s not just the medical side, it’s really holistic.”