You’ve probably heard of Meals on Wheels, whether you’ve taken advantage of the service or not. It is one of two home-delivered meals programs that receive funding through Aging and Disability Services.
In Seattle-King County, Meals on Wheels (MOW) is administered by Sound Generations. The other home-delivered meal program is Chicken Soup Brigade, a program administered by Lifelong that cooks meals from scratch, using whole foods in their commercial kitchen. Both programs help meet the nutritional needs of homebound older adults, and they collaborate to ensure that a variety of culturally and nutritionally appropriate meal options are available to all clients.
Typically, home-delivered meal clients are age 60 years (55+ if Native American/Alaskan Indian) or older, live on a low income, and have difficulty leaving home without help and/or cooking due to their physical or mental health. Both programs are seeing an increase in the need for meals for older people who meet eligibility requirements and are working to meet those needs.
Here are some home-delivered meal stories worth sharing:
- A new menu was released in mid‐May, with an increased number of options provided to Meals on Wheels by Chicken Soup Brigade. One client shared, “I’m glad that you are including such a nice variety of plant‐based options. I think it’s a really healthy, or at least a healthier, way to live, to eat plant‐based, so thank you for that!” Another client, after trying the new Sweet & Sour Chicken and Ginger Chicken meals, asked for only new meal options the following week, saying, “Oh boy, I tell you, they are really good!”
- Sound Generations’ Registered Dietitian received feedback from someone who received nutrition counseling: “I don’t have to worry about going hungry anymore. I am finally able to think about my food choices, and don’t have to worry about starving anymore. I am not eating based on a reaction or out of fear that I won’t have enough. Part of that is having the consistency from MOW, but part of it is working with you and you have allowed me to feel that I am able to keep myself energized and nourished.”
- At a site visit last month, Sound Generations’ volunteer coordinator heard this from a site coordinator: “Our drivers care about the people they serve and call for health checks when they have concerns. One incident found the person on the bathroom floor where she had been in and out of consciousness for three days. The Kent police chief told me that he considers MOW some of his eyes in the community.”
- Another volunteer shared, “Years ago, when my grandnieces would stay at our house during a school break, they would come with me to deliver meals. The night before they would make their own cards to hand deliver to my customers or hand out at the senior center. Months later, when delivering to this one individual, I noticed he had attached their card to his refrigerator. He said he enjoyed the card so much and that it brightened his day! Another individual continues to ask how my kids are doing—even today, after 6 or 7 years!”
We’ve heard stories like these for years—an ongoing testament to the value of our home-delivered meal programs. They provide nutritional sustenance, personal contact, and extra eyes on the health of our elders—all of which are lifegiving. The increase in need for home-delivered meals in recent years also points to the need for additional resources.
Volunteer opportunities abound
Our clients aren’t the only people who benefit from home-delivered meal programs. Volunteers find so much value in packing meals, making deliveries, coordinating other volunteers, and providing office support. Many hold their volunteer positions for years.
Of course, new volunteers are always welcome. If you would like to get involved, here’s how:
- Meals on Wheels: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-448-5767. For more information, click here.
- Chicken Soup Brigade: Read about current openings and apply online here. For more information, click here.
We also recommend that you contact Community Living Connections at (toll-free) 844-348-5464. Community Living Connections advocates can also help you determine if there are additional services and supports that may be beneficial. It is the “front door” to Aging and Disability Services-funded programs throughout Seattle and King County. Calls and consultations are professional, confidential, and free of charge.
Contributor Terra McCaffree is a senior grants and contracts specialist at Aging and Disability Services, Seattle Human Services Department who has worked in Aging Network programs for more than three decades. Photos courtesy of Chicken Soup Brigade.