Meals on Wheels home delivery.
Seniors can receive free or low cost meals and other food from Meals on Wheels. The service is provided by thousands of volunteer groups and non-profits across the nation. Many local Salvation Army centers, Catholic Charities, community action agencies, churches and other charity type organizations administer the free Meals on Wheels program in communities around the country.
The Meals on Wheels program was created to help the elderly and seniors, no matter their income. Top priority is given to the homebound, which generally will be seniors who are unable to get food on their own and who can’t prepare their own meals. Some agencies will restrict home delivered meals to individuals with medical conditions, mental impairments, or physical disabilities. But the terms and conditions of each administering agency will vary.
The organizations are geared towards serving food to those with the greatest physical, economic, or social need in the community. Unfortunately the demand for assistance is great, and resources are limited. So some organizations may have a waiting list which fluctuates week by week and the waiting period can be as long as several weeks. Each and every Meals on Wheels program and their volunteers continue to do their best to keep the waiting list to a minimum.
Through the Meals on Wheel program, a volunteer who works for one of the participating organizations will deliver a free or low cost meal directly to the homebound senior citizen's door. All food and ingredients that are served will be prepared fresh at local kitchens. They are then both packaged and delivered to the client on the same day they are made. So the meals are served hot. All meals that are prepared will be planned to meet one-third of the current recommended dietary allowances of a typical senior.
The exact eligibility requirements may vary by county or program, but in general they will include such conditions as follows.
- The applicant must be homebound.
- The person must not be able to take care of themselves, which usually means the individual applying for Meals on Wheels needs to be at least 60 years of age or older, disabled, or in serious medical condition. Most agencies will also provide free meals to the spouse or partner of a person at least 60 years of age.
- The person who needs food must be unable to attend a local Senior Center or food pantry because of emotional or physical disabilities.
- Applicants must be elderly, physically or emotionally unable to obtain food, disabled, or otherwise can’t prepare full meals on their own.
- A prioirty for delivery is the homebound, and they need to lack a car or transportation to a local grocery store.
While not always required, and again this depends on the local service, many Meals on Wheels program may ask for a very small monetary donation for each meal delivered. All donations will always go directly back into the program to help provide meals and food to others. So the contribution will offset operating costs. Some programs just could use a donation, but it may not be required.
Meals on Wheels programs will provide hot, fresh, and nourishing meals to homebound elderly, the sick and disabled persons who can’t prepare a meal for themselves and who have no one to do so for them. The home delivered meals, the daily contact by caring volunteers who deliver them and the professional case management allow seniors, homebound persons and the frail to remain in their own home. Some locations may even offer holiday meals for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Find your local Meals on Wheels program
The non-profit that offers the service will vary by state and county. It may be your local Salvation Army center, Catholic Charities, St. Vincent DePaul, Senior Center, or government social service office. Find information on a number of non-profits agencies by state and county that may offer the Meals on Wheels program and other aid, such as financial assistance and case management. Either use the search box at the top of this page to search by county or city, or find a comprehensive list of non-profit agencies by state that may offer free home delivery of meals. Learn more.
Additional Meals on Wheels services
Most of the agencies that administer this program also provide professional case management to every client. Meals On Wheels is strongly committed to maintaining a commitment to respond to each of their clients as individuals. They will provide an environment of compassion and caring help. The local agencies will almost always partner with other local resources and coordinate with geriatric health as well as social services throughout the area. Meals On Wheels staff members, in partnership with other local charities and non-profits, respond to a wide range of issues for seniors and other clients.
Social workers from non-profit organizations and government agencies will conduct regular visits with clients. They will consult with the drivers and volunteers who deliver food and see clients daily. For those clients in need of additional support, case managers provide referrals, assist with various emergencies and provide ongoing monitoring and support.
For example, many clients are in need of additional in-home help such as cleaning, laundry, and personal care such as dressing and bathing. The agencies may be able to address those needs. Most organizations that run Meals on Wheels programs can also arrange for free or low cost medical care. They can coordinate transportation for doctor’s appointments or provide advice and help with medical insurance issues. Social workers also assist with housing issues (such as rental assistance), personal and home safety and cases of domestic abuse.
Another more up coming service available is the free pet food that is available in some counties and towns. This will be for seniors, the homebound and disabled that meet low income levels. The reason this delivery service started is that many clients were giving their meals to their cats or dogs, so now many non-profits are trying to fill this gap in service. Read Meals on Wheels pet food.
Dedicated volunteers will often be able to help senior citizen clients by visiting them in their homes, shopping for them, delivering meals and companionship on holidays or helping at the administrative offices. This system of integrated care provides a link between the meals and other assistance programs that a senior or homebound individual may need to remain independent.