|The Meals on
Wheels program is headquartered in Virginia and led by CEO
Enid Borden. The Meals on Wheels Association is the oldest
meal delivery program for seniors in the country. The organization
is a certified non-profit company.
The Meals on Wheels Association of America commissioned
a study on the senior hunger crisis in America and found
that well over five million seniors suffer from food insufficiency.
The study found that low-income, ethnic minorities, renters,
and people living in the South were more at risk than their
peers. The study also showed two-thirds of the seniors suffering
from hunger were Caucasian and the problem was distributed
fairly even among rural and urban populations.
In recent times Meals on Wheels programs have suffered
from budget cuts and have had to rely more on volunteers.
They have also started to employ a new food distribution
program where meals are not delivered to homes but are served
at local senior centers.
These local congregate meal programs have several benefits
for the participants and the local Meals on Wheels chapters
that run them. In addition to the cost savings on transportation
and staffing, the congregate meals on wheels programs benefit
the senior in many ways.
A study done by the Administration on Aging showed that
one congregate meal provided at least one-third of the daily
nutritional needs of the seniors who participated showing
how important the meals are in terms of dietary intake.
One congregate meal provided as much as fifty percent of
the daily recommended allowance for some vitamins and minerals.
The seniors who participated in the meals on wheels congregate
programs were less likely to be deficient in overall calories,
calcium, vitamin B6, and Zinc. In addition to the meal served
at the senior center many participants also take home a
snack or an extra meal allowing them to have access to more
Along with the nutritional benefits of eating a congregate
lunch the participants also benefit from the social interaction.
Those attending a meal program at a senior center were able
to develop senior support networks leading to healthy friendships,
conversation, and camaraderie. The social aspect of Meals
on Wheels congregate programs helps seniors find relief
from loneliness, isolation, and even feelings of depression.
In a focus group of congregate meal participants conducted
by Northwestern University, participants said the lunch
program gave them something to look forward to and provided
mental stimulation. They also mentioned that the program
kept them feeling younger and mentally active.
The focus group also found that
many participants were able to learn about other important
senior services offered at their local senior center or
other agencies in their community that they would not have
known about had it not been for the Meals on Wheels congregate