Giving the gift of food

Jason Ferguson
Rebecca Mielnik was recently sitting at home scrolling on her phone, pondering what she could do to help out as the nation deals with COVID-19.
That was when it hit her. Well, more like that’s when she saw it.
There, on a friend’s social media, was a friend who had teamed up with a chef to create a meal kit program that is fast, easy and can be made with common ingredients, all for under $10. That led to the idea of creating kits to distribute to those in need during the pandemic, as many people are finding themselves with reduced hours, furloughed or out of a job altogether. 
Mielnik, who many might know as “Dr. Rebecca” from the former Destination Dentistry, headed to Lynn’s Dakotamart to make sure the ingredients for possible meal kits were available. When she saw that they were, the plan to put the kits together and deliver them were set in motion.
“I’m just trying to get a little awareness into the community if people need help,” Mielnek said.
She launched a Facebook page for the initative called Grassroots Meal Kit delivery. She has promoted the program on several TV stations and made her first deliveries late last week in Custer.
The meal kits can be delivered to anyone for free and the program is completely anonymous. Simply identify a person, couple or family in need. There is no age or size limit. Someone may submit themselves as someone in need, as well. To submit someone to receive the kits, all one needs to do is mail the address of the delivery to No names are required or reasons for wanting the food delivered.
Once a name is submitted, Mielnik purchases the ingredients for a meal (that serves four people), boxes the food up with a recipe card and online resources for preparing the meal. Then, Mielnik does what might be her favorite part of the program, aside from the helping those in need, of course. She puts the box on the doorstep, rings the doorbell and runs. Call it reliving a little bit of junior high.
“It’s the best doorbell ditching,” she said with a laugh. “Like a 13-year-old.”
Right now, the program is privately funded and she is the only one putting the boxes together and doing the delivery. She is not yet asking for donations, as she does not want to collect a bunch of money for a program that may not need it. If she eventually needs funds or volunteers, she will reach out via the Facebook page for the program or pursue other avenues.
Mielnik notes that during the pandemic there are programs to take care of children and the elderly, but those in between who were already living paycheck to paycheck and have now been affected by the pandemic don’t have a lot of areas to turn for assistance. As someone who subscribes to Green Chef, a healthy meal kit delivery service, Mielnik said she can appreciate having food delivered to her door.
The recipes in the box are created by a chef, she said, and are easy to cook using common ingredients. Mielnik said the recipes are fun, can teach people how to cook and gives people something to do while stuck at home.

User login