Meals on Wheels

Care for Seniors
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Seniors, those who are sick and those recovering from illness face challenges that sometimes fun deeper than companionship. One of the problems that seniors have to deal with is limited mobility and, with that, limited transportation. With these problems come few options for getting food.

Seniors face hunger at a high rate. In Mississippi, for example, the current estimate of seniors with food insecurity is around 12%. There is an upward trend, too, with more seniors facing the risk of hunger than years past.
Many of the meals provided by the city’s Department for the Aging are perhaps better tasting than cafeteria-style food. Read The New York Times Review
The Meals on Wheels food is usually either a hot meal or a cold meal. Cold meals could include a sandwich, fruit, juice, and sides. Hot meals sometimes include meat and sides, perhaps with a dessert. There may be kosher options or ethnic options as well.

Special meals can sometimes be available upon request and with enough notification. For those who do not need a lot to feel full it is a good idea to save part of the meal for another time, as the services are often working on low funds and responding to a high volume.
It is important to note that these meals are not to be looked at as a sole source of food, as this often varies case by case and program by program. Meals could come as often as once a week or once a day.



Senior Meals on Wheels programs and Elderly Meals on Wheels programs are often free or low cost, and that need usually must be verified. Location is always a consideration with the cost, as is income and financial situation. Qualification often also requires verification of limited mobility or limited access to food. Age or income is not part of the requirements of care. You will need a physician’s prescription to prove your loved one is homebound.

However, each distribution center is managed by local city or county governments. Each has their own budget, and their own availability for delivery. They are typically highly dependent on volunteers, and cannot service rural areas. Expect demand to out-weight meal availablity.

A social worker might come visit the house to talk with the individual needing help, or a doctor could provide verification. The first step to getting the Meals on Wheels service is to find a local listing and get in touch with the organization. A listing of programs that provide these services is located on the Meals on Wheels Association of America's website.



There are also alternatives to Meals on Wheels, such as DineWise, which is the country's largest prepared meal delivery service. Due to the popularity and excessive need of feeding seniors and the elderly, please visit our Senior Meal Delivery section to explore your options.

There are also a number of local and chain grocery stores that provide free or low cost delivery of groceries. This could save money for seniors who need to fill in the gap between the meals provided to them.

Additional Links of Interest

Meals on Wheels - National website that explains the service. It also offers a search by zip code to find the nearest service near you.

The New York Times - Review of the quality of meals offered by Meals On Wheels in New York City.
Seniors in the South are at particular risk. This is also not limited to rural or urban areas but all across America. It can be frustrating for family members who live far away or simply cannot make it over daily to help with buying groceries and cooking meals.

While a companion is able to help with planning meals and do some shopping, he or she should not be the only resource available. Fortunately, there are programs like Meals on Wheels to aid seniors.
"Meals on Wheels" is a generic name for a food program that distributes free or low cost meals to needy people like seniors who face hunger. Food is distributed to seniors and those in need through mobile transportation like cars, trucks, or vans. The most well known organization devoted to this mission is the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

The first formal program started in the 1950s in Philadelphia. The United States has around 5,000 senior nutrition programs which provide seniors with over a million meals a day. There are also thousands of employees employed by these programs, a large volunteer base, and hundreds of thousands of seniors who receive the meals each day.

The mission of the Meals on Wheels Association has always been to curb hunger among senior citizens and those in need, but recently the association has made a new goal to end hunger by 2020, and its new plan to do so includes recruiting six million people to pledge to help by volunteering, donating or supporting the association in some way. Faith based programs are also popular.

Meals on Wheels is also working to increase knowledge about how to cut hunger and distribute meals even in times of emergency, like floods, hurricanes or blizzards. They are doing so by grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Act. Senior Meals on Wheels and Elderly Meals on wheels are the top priority.



The food provided is determined by the nutrition advisers, which includes doctors, dietitians and nutritionists nationwide. There is an effort to make meals low sodium, low fat, easy to digest and easy to eat.
Eldelry Woman receiving a cold meal from her local meals on wheels office.
Caregiver Newsletter

What is Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels Food

Qualifying for Meals on Wheels

Alternatives to Meals on Wheels
We invite you to share your thoughts, comments, and questions on our blog. We are all stronger as a team, and our combined support in caring for our loved ones will make a big difference in our efforts!  Thank you.
-Becky Wood
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This page was last updated: 6/6/2014