An hours-long labor of love: Volunteers cook and deliver 341 meals to Madison’s elderly, shut-in adults

MADISON, Wis. — On Thanksgiving morning, some people turkey trot. Some sleep in. Some are cooking for their own gatherings from the early morning hours. Others are in an industrial kitchen all day Wednesday and Thursday morning, putting the final touches on a meal for nearly 350 people before getting home to their families.

That’s the story of the partnership between Newbridge Madison, Door Creek Church, and Melly Mell’s Soul Food at Feed Kitchen this week, where the group prepared 341 meals to deliver around Madison to the elderly, sick, and shut-in.

“We cook probably twenty turkeys,” Door Creek Church pastor David Smith said, who with has wife has served the community with free meals for 23 years. “This means so much, with people being isolated these days and being away from their families.”

About fifty volunteers (and mostly donated food) make the operation tick: from cooking to delivering the meals around Madison, everyone chips in.

“That is my passion: about helping people,” explained Newbridge employee and volunteer coordinator Jeanette Arthur. She’s worked with the group for eight years, a job her friend told her would be instantly up her ally because of its emphasis on others.

“The rest is history,” she added with a chuckle.

It was Arthur’s car stuffed full with a couple dozen or so meals to deliver that wound up on Park Street, dropping off a meal for Joel Walters who’d spent the morning sick and watching the Detroit Lions lose to the Buffalo Bills.

“I’m a football fan,” he says with a laugh–and an apology he didn’t dress up for the interview. “This is my football outfit,” he explained.

Walters has a few nephews and nieces in the area, and used to work in a steel mill in Indiana before moving to Madison years ago. For him, the worth of a handcooked, hand-delivered meal means the world.

Arthur has ten other meals to deliver to his neighbors in his building alone before heading to her next stop.

“To give back, because they’re usually feeling like they’re all alone,” she explained. “I’m sure they helped someone when they were younger and could.”


Newbridge Madison is always looking for volunteers, as they do this type of work year-round. Head to their website for more details if you’re interested in helping out.