ABOUT MEALS ON WHEELS
WHAT IS MEALS ON WHEELS?
Meals on Wheels is a nationwide network of community-based, non-profit programs dedicated to providing seniors in their communities with the support that enables them to remain living in their own homes, where they want to be. This support is typically a nutritious meal, a friendly visit and a quick safety check.
Learn more about Meals on Wheels and the role it plays in communities.
WHAT DOES MEALS ON WHEELS DO?
Meals on Wheels primarily provides nutritious meals, a quick safety check and much-needed human connection to homebound seniors. In some communities, additional services that keep seniors healthy and safe are also offered, like pet food delivery, senior center meal programs, home repair services and transportation. Each local program works with its own community’s needs and resources to provide a community-specific solution.
WHY DOES MEALS ON WHEELS EXIST?
The reality is that 10 million seniors in America struggle with hunger, 15 million live in isolation and 18 million live in or near poverty. This problem will only become more serious as the senior population is projected to double by 2050. Families are spread out and elders are left behind, often struggling to remain self-sufficient.
Learn more about Meals on Wheels and the role it plays in communities.
WHO PAYS FOR THE MEALS?
Each local community sets its own payment policies based on its needs and resources. Meals on Wheels was created as a partnership between the federal government and the public. The Older Americans Act pays for approximately one third of Meals on Wheels funding, while local communities and private resources generate the rest. These sources vary by community and include client payments, contributions from private donors, foundations and state and local governments.
Current funding levels, however, are inadequate and waiting lists are building in every state across America. Therefore, the need to protect existing funding and create new funding streams is imperative.
WHAT IS MEALS ON WHEELS AMERICA?
Meals on Wheels America is the national membership organization that represents the 5,000 local community-based programs across the country dedicated to improving the lives of their senior neighbors. At the national level, we create opportunities, generate research that improves performance and act as the national voice that empowers and strengthens local communities.
Learn more about Meals on Wheels America.
ABOUT MEALS ON WHEELS CLIENTS
WHO ARE THE CLIENTS OF MEALS ON WHEELS?
We serve more than 2.4 million seniors from 60 to 100+ years old each year. These are our loved-ones, parents, grandparents, veterans and neighbors. They are primarily older than 60 and, because of physical limitations or financial difficulties, struggle to shop for or prepare meals for themselves. From rural communities to urban centers across the country, hardly any senior is beyond our reach. More than half a million of the people we serve are veterans (over 20%). 64% of clients are women. 40% live in poverty. 100% would love to meet you.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR MEALS ON WHEELS?
Seniors threatened with hunger and social isolation make up the core of Meals on Wheels clients. Specific qualifications vary by community, however, services typically require physical or financial challenges to their ability to eat healthy meals and move freely about their communities. In many areas, there are not enough local resources to meet the need, leading to the creation of waiting lists full of people who need the service but are not yet recipients.
HOW CAN I APPLY TO RECEIVE MEALS?
If you’d like to request meals for yourself or for a loved one, get started, and find the program(s) serving your community.
WHY IS VOLUNTEERING FOR MEALS ON WHEELS SO IMPORTANT?
People 85+ represent the fastest growing segment of the American population, and the number of seniors as a whole is projected to double over the next three to four decades. While our current corps of 2 million volunteers is struggling to keep pace with this rapid growth, it will take a huge increase in volunteers and resources to begin to meet the need going forward. America, Let’s Do Lunch is intended to shine a light on this growing and urgent need and help spark the involvement of people just like you to help fill that need.
If you can’t volunteer but would like to help, consider donating to help protect and provide the comfort, company and nutrition seniors need.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING WHEN I VOLUNTEER?
The most common volunteer job is delivering meals and friendly greetings to homebound seniors. Most typically, this involves picking up meals at a central location and delivering them along a pre-determined route directly to the homes of several seniors in your area. Once you’re done, you return the delivery packaging items and get back on your way.
HOW OFTEN WILL I BE EXPECTED TO VOLUNTEER?
We can set up a volunteer schedule that works with yours. Whether that be once a week, once a month or as needed, just mention your preferences when you connect with your local program.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO VOLUNTEER?
Local programs typically aim to provide volunteer opportunities that fit within a lunch break of up to an hour and a half.
CAN I VOLUNTEER AT TIMES OTHER THAN LUNCH HOUR?
Yes. Most local Meals on Wheels programs have the need for volunteers to fill a number of roles that can be done outside of the lunch hour and at varying locations. Please check in with your local program to see what is available in your area.
WILL I EAT WITH THE CLIENTS?
Volunteers are expected to deliver the meal and generally check in with the clients to make sure they are okay through a friendly greeting or brief conversation. You are not expected to stay with the client for the meal.
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
Fill out the signup form and we’ll share your interest with the local Meals on Wheels program in your area. They’ll follow up with you shortly, or you can contact them directly. Their contact information will be provided on the signup confirmation screen and email.
CAN I VOLUNTEER WITH A GROUP?
Groups are very welcome. Please mention your interest in volunteering as a group when speaking to your local program.
CAN MY COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION SET UP VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES IN MULTIPLE CITIES?
Yes! Companies or organizations interested in creating group volunteer opportunities in multiple cities can express interest by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHY IS THERE A VETTING PROCESS FOR VOLUNTEERS?
While the vetting process for volunteers varies by location, all programs are invested in the safety of their clients. You may be asked to undergo a background check process prior to delivering meals if your local program assigns you to a route unaccompanied by a more experienced volunteer or staff member.
WHO PREPARES THE FOOD?
Typically paid staff and/or volunteers who want to help in the kitchen prepare the meals. Food preparation is not part of the meal delivery volunteer assignment. Meals are individually packaged to be handed off simply to clients.
DO I NEED A CAR?
In most locations volunteers who deliver meals will drive their own cars. However, in some urban settings, delivery routes can be covered on foot or by using mass transit. Please ask your local Meals on Wheels program about transportation when you are setting up your volunteer assignments.
WILL I ALWAYS VOLUNTEER WITH THE SAME CLIENTS?
Typically, recurring volunteers can sign up for a set schedule and delivery route, therefore allowing you to visit the same seniors on a regular basis. However, there is often a need to fill in open volunteer slots or to volunteer on different schedules which could result in serving different clients on different days.
HOW MANY CLIENTS WILL I MEET WHEN I “DO LUNCH?”
That largely depends on the distance between deliveries. Volunteers in more rural settings typically see fewer clients in a single volunteer shift, while those in urban areas can visit quickly with multiple clients living in close proximity to each other.
CAN I RESCHEDULE WHEN SOMETHING COMES UP?
Schedules are typically flexible with appropriate notice. Once you’re connected with your local Meals on Wheels program, you’ll be able to work directly with them to manage your volunteer schedule.