Recent News

Fresh and Free Produce Available for Copper Country Seniors

Changes to Senior Project Fresh Coupon Distribution

Senior Project Fresh Coupons can be picked up at the MSU Extension office in Hancock between now and Thursday, July 27. Starting Friday, July 28, coupons can be picked up at Copper Shores Meals on Wheels in Hancock between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. There is a limited supply of coupons available.

The remaining coupons are for seniors over the age of 59, who have not yet received coupons, living in Houghton or Keweenaw county who meet specific income requirements. The coupons are valued at $25 and can be used at any participating farmers market in the Copper Country –  including Calumet, Hancock, Houghton, and at the Bovine Farm Stand south of L’Anse.

Seniors may be eligible if they are in a single household with an income level under $25,142 or a household with two people with an income level under $33,874. Those 55 years of age and a member of a Michigan federally recognized tribe or urban tribe who meets the income requirements, may also be eligible to receive Senior Project Fresh coupons.

Some of the produce that can be purchased with these coupons includes but is not limited to watermelon, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, rosemary, lettuce, honey, cucumbers, brussels sprouts, blueberries, asparagus and apples. With more than 75 varieties of food that are included in Senior Project Fresh, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Coupons are available on a first-come first-served basis with limited amounts of coupons. To learn more, see the full schedule of coupon distributions, and find a list of all eligible fresh fruits and vegetables, visit

The MSU Extension office is located at 1500 Birch St., Hancock. The Copper Shores Meals on Wheels office is at 821 W Water St., Hancock. If you have any questions, call the MSU Extension Office at (906) 482-5830 or Meals on Wheels at (906) 483-1155.

Copper Shores Meals on Wheels Taking Part in Letters Against Isolation 

What two sisters started as a pastime during the pandemic has grown into a nationwide organization fighting against isolation. Realizing their grandmother wasn’t the strongest technology user, they began to write her letters to keep in touch while they couldn’t physically be together. After seeing the mutual social and emotional benefits, they answered the call of seniors across the country and created Letters Against Isolation.

Copper Shores Meals on Wheels is excited to be one of the partners in Letters Against Isolation distribution. Through Letters Against Isolation, people from all over the world can write letters and make handmade cards that get sent directly to seniors in the Copper Shores Meals on Wheels program.

Though seniors often do not know the person they are receiving a letter from, many are excited to know someone is thinking of them. Many writers will talk about their life and the exciting things happening for them, others send well wishes, poems, prayers and more. To have a letter, even if it’s only a peek into someone’s life, helps homebound and isolated seniors feel connected to others. 

The Surgeon General recently released a report deeming isolation and loneliness an epidemic, citing the sense of belonging as a “fundamental human need.” People feel a sense of belonging in multiple ways, including social groups, physical places, and experiences.

The harsh Copper Country winters can leave seniors feeling even more isolated as friends move south for the season, roads and sidewalks become icy and dangerous, and weather conditions slow or stop travel and visitations. 

“We thought that especially during the winters, it would help a lot of our seniors with loneliness, some of them don’t have anyone to talk to,” said Mckenzie Hart, office clerk of Copper Shores Meals on Wheels. 

Hart is in charge of coordinating the receival, distribution and delivery of letters for Copper Shores, making sure that letters make it to seniors. In addition to sending out letters to seniors, Hart and staff have received their own letter, being thanked for what they do. 

“I think for myself and Jessica Mills, our Assessor, it’s made us feel more appreciated,” said Hart. “They’ll send cute little cards, talking about how important the job we do is. Sometimes we get to look through the cards and I think it’s given me a different outlook on life.”

Hart hand writes thank you notes to every person who includes the return address to express gratitude from herself and the other employees. 

“I like to make sure that they feel appreciated and they know that what they are doing is important as well,” said Hart.

Employees and seniors alike are excited by the inflow of letters from caring strangers, and hope distribution continues to grow in the Copper Country. If you would like to get involved or write a letter for a senior in need of connection, visit: to sign up.

To learn more about the dangers of isolation and loneliness, read the one of latest Surgeon General reports:

McMain Nominated for 2023 Power of the Knock Award

Seniors across the country make up a large and growing portion of the U.S. population, and as such, caring about and assisting aging folks where possible is of growing importance. Meals on Wheels is one such organization, bringing both fresh meals and companionship to seniors that may be homebound. For the first time, Meals on Wheels is offering the Power of the Knock Volunteer Award, something we believe our very own Gracey McMain is more than deserving of.

A quick visit from someone may feel unimportant to many, but for homebound seniors, a visit from their Meals on Wheels driver may be the only interaction they have all day. Sometimes the meals provided by Meals on Wheels are the only food they consume in a day, bringing vital nutrients and sustenance, health check-ins, and friendship.

“Gracey drives the longest route,” Kathleen Harter, Program Director at Copper Shores Meals on Wheels, “and we’ve offered to shorten it, but Gracey does not want to give up spots because she would miss the seniors on her route.” 

When invited in, McMain will step into homes and take time to visit with the seniors. She sees them as more than a number, more than people who just need a simple service. She asks them questions about their lives, and develops a unique connection with each senior she visits. 

Developing a sense of trust and getting to know seniors’ backgrounds has helped McMain develop a sense for when the seniors on her route are not displaying their usual health, picking up on nuances that might otherwise go unnoticed.

“She sees them as individuals  and that they are a person who is full of stories, memories and ideas,” said Harter.

Beyond her innate compassion and basic duties, McMain is engaging, going above and beyond by helping seniors with anything that is needed around the house.

“Gracey always goes the extra mile,” said Harter, “sweeping porches, shoveling steps and even walking multiple meals a quarter of a mile when a senior’s road was impassable.”

Rain or shine, McMain shows up ready to help. The Copper Country’s proclivity for severe and changing weather is not enough to stop McMain from putting in around 20 hours of volunteering, week-in and week-out.

Many people who work for and volunteer with Copper Shores Meals on Wheels are retirees. Due to the odd hours, many younger people who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs cannot help out at a place like Meals on Wheels. McMain’s own unique schedule has allowed her to put the time and effort into the Meals on Wheels program.

“Gracey is choosing to do this. It’s really refreshing to see people under retirement age connecting with seniors,” said Harter.

In a time of growing social isolation and a growing aging population, it is essential that people like McMain continue to put in the hours connecting with seniors. Copper Shores Meals on Wheels is grateful for McMain’s contribution and knows she will inspire others to do the same.

McMain is the 2023 Copper Shores Meals on Wheels nominee for the Power of Knock award. Meals on Wheels programs nationwide nominated a volunteer they thought was worthy of this honor. The winners will be announced in July and awarded in August at the national Meals on Wheels America conference in Phoenix, AZ. This award is made possible due to the generosity of Home Instead.

Local food the focus of $1.25 million grant to Copper Shores

Copper Shores Community Health Foundation is excited to announce a $1,289,510 grant from the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program for Copper Shores Meals on Wheels programming. This funding was provided through the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

The purpose of this grant is to support and improve the resilience of local supply chains, allowing states, tribes, and territories to offer healthy and nutritious foods and beverages. With the funding, Copper Shores can offer assistance that is tailored to the challenges faced in the Copper Country, and offer foods that are unique to the area.

This grant will help Copper Shores serve the very best quality food to our local seniors with locally sourced food and establish working partnerships or relationships with a variety of local food producers. The grant allows organizations to form partnerships in a 400-mile radius, meaning there is potential to work with over 250 regionally based farmers and producers.

“For the past year we have been tweaking and testing menu items that include more seasonal produce and to now have the funds to launch a regional food program for our Meals on Wheels clients is incredibly exciting,” said Kathleen Harter, Program Director at Copper Shores Meals on Wheels. “We are so excited to produce high quality meals that are full of color, flavor, and celebrate the diversity of local foods that are grown in the upper Midwest. We are looking forward to working with and establishing long-standing partnerships that carry us forward beyond the life of the grant.”

By working with farmers, growers, jam producers, bakers, butchers and more to bring fresh local foods to Copper Country residents, Copper Shores will set up a long-term relationship with local vendors and put resources and money right into the local economy. 

These relationships will benefit local businesses and farmers by giving them consistent business, and benefit Copper Shores as a consistent buyer of high quality locally grown foods. This means that the programming created by the grant will be able to continue past the initial funding.

“We want to create a sustainable food system that supports small agricultural businesses while getting the most nutritious foods we can to our clients,” Harter said. 

Copper Shores is currently in the process of researching and developing expectations for produce amounts, costs and timing. Formal partnerships are expected to launch starting this fall. With the expected influx of local foods, Copper Shores is planning to improve its facilities and kitchen equipment to process goods more efficiently. The grant will help fund needed upgrades and aid Copper Shores as it expands its local food offerings. 

Copper Shores Meals on Wheels is a home delivered and congregate meal service that services Houghton and Keweenaw counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Meals on Wheels program is part of the programming offered by Copper Shores Community Health Foundation. Learn more about Copper Shores as a whole at and about the Meals on Wheels programming at