Meet Main Line Meals on Wheels (guest article)
Many of you have heard of Meals on Wheels, which is active throughout the United States; our local program is Main Line Meals on Wheels, which is proud to be celebrating 50 years serving our community.
Our local Meals on Wheels has been in operation since 1972. Their mission is to deliver nutritious meals to homebound individuals, regardless of race, color, creed or ability to pay. The program currently delivers to one hundred forty patrons from two locations on the Main Line. The Bryn Mawr Hospital site serves Montgomery County. The Surrey Services for Seniors site in Devon delivers to the Chester and Delaware County area. Every ML Meals on Wheels delivery consists of a hot meal, soup, dessert and a cold meal, all packed and delivered by volunteers. Each patron receives these meals, five days per week. For an explanation, see the video below:
During the pandemic, Main Line Meals on Wheels created an Adopt-a-Patron program. Volunteers phone patrons weekly to check on them and to ensure they have an opportunity to socialize safely. Also throughout the pandemic, in partnership with other community organizations, ML Meals on Wheels was able to provide patrons free of charge a bag of non-perishable food as well as a “PPE” package containing face masks, hand sanitizer, paper towels and toilet paper.
Main Line Meals on Wheels recently began a Free Friday Hot Meal Program in which two local caterers prepare and donate meals once a month. ML MoW continues providing “Snow Packs” to patrons annually, with non-perishable food in the event they are unable to deliver as a result of bad weather.
Most ML Meals on Wheels patrons pay the full price of the service. Under that arrangement, the cost of meals is approximately $42.50 per week ($8.50 per day, minimum 3 days). In keeping with the Meals on Wheels mission, a subsidy is arranged for those patrons unable to pay the full amount.
The Philadelphia Main Line’s notoriety for wealth obscures a coexisting issue of local poverty and food insecurity. ML Meals on Wheels services are funded through patrons who pay for meals, and through donations and grants for those who cannot. While most seniors are able to pay the $2,000 annual cost for their meals, approximately 36% of MOW customers are subsidized by 50-100%. In 2021, this subsidy amounted to $85,000 for ML Meals on Wheels customers. . The need for subsidies has grown an average of 20% per year.
As a charity, Main Line Meals on Wheels is highly effective. Charity Navigator publishes that the program to expense ratio is 95%. This is because, to keep costs at a minimum, the meal packing and delivery is done strictly by volunteers who work with the kitchen staff at both food locations. Volunteers pack the meals and deliver them to patrons Monday through Friday, 52 weeks a year, including holidays. Main Line Meals on Wheels engages 24 volunteers on a daily basis, which translates into nearly 12,000 volunteer hours and almost 50,000 miles driven per year.
There may be other programs that provide frozen meals to seniors, but Main Line Meals on Wheels strives to be “more than a meal” for its patrons. They attempt to also provide physical and emotional support with meals, safety checks and social interaction. A study piloted by Meals on Wheels America, the AARP Foundation and Brown University compared the impact of shipped frozen meals version to hand-delivered fresh meals on a random group of seniors from Meals on Wheels waiting lists. The differences between the two groups was striking Those who received daily-delivered fresh meals experienced the greatest improvements in health and quality of life, reported improvements in feelings of isolation, loneliness, safety and health, and were more likely to report decreases in worry about being able to remain in their home. The video below explains...
Meals on Wheels always welcomes new patrons. If you know anyone who can use the services-either temporarily or on an ongoing basis- please have them call Main Line Meals on Wheels at 610-688-8170. One of the hurdles faced by the program is that the majority of patrons are seniors, some of whom have no internet access and therefore lack a way to search for programs that may provide meals in the home.
And, of course, Meals on Wheels is always very grateful for monetary donations. You can donate directly or through the United Way (#2693). They also participate in the “Amazon Smile” program so you can donate to them for free while you shop (just go to smile.amazon.com).
For more information about the program, how to volunteer or to make donations, please visit: www.mainlinemealsonwheels.org.