(FOX 9) - Despite the extreme cold in Minnesota, a group of dedicated individuals is braving the freezing temps to not only make sure they are fed but also that they are healthy.
"This is it, six days a week, ten hours a day," said Lauren Hauter with Meals on Wheels.
One by one, meal by meal, volunteers spend their time assembling thousands each day.
"They scoop and pack and seal, and then set it all up and do it again," said Hauter.
Getting the food ready to go in the Meals on Wheels, Open Arms of Minnesota Kitchen, they’ve seen a 400 percent increase in demand thanks to COVID-19 along with the recent cold spell.
"It’s like they’re getting hit twice," said Hauter. "The people who are getting the meals, they’re staying home. It’s hard, but they’re keeping themselves safe, then the weather comes around and those that were in their circle maybe aren’t able to come by because it’s just really cold."
"You just have to keep warm, whatever, wear a scarf, have a beard, make sure you don’t get frostbite and you don’t freeze," said Meals on Wheels volunteer Matt Hawthorne, who is part of the team that delivers the meals.
Hawthorne hits the road weekly to distribute meals to the clients on his list, knowing his visit isn't just about the food.
"I could be the only contact that person has for the entire day and whether that’s 30 seconds or five minutes, delivering that meal to them," he explained.
The volunteers are able to be extra eyes and ears out in the community, especially important in these dangerous temperatures.
"I’m doing this delivery, I don’t have to worry about this person going outside and getting cold," said Hawthorne. "It’s one of those things I know this is a person who is getting a hot meal because of what I’m doing, which is why I’m doing it."
"Ultimately, they are able to relay back if something doesn’t look right, if it’s really cold and they don’t look like they’re as warm as they should be that’s a message," added Hauter.