The first meal delivered by an ancestor
program of Meals on Wheels in the United States was in January of 1954 in
Pennsylvania. This city funded program inspired other cities throughout the
country to develop a program where food is brought to needy senior citizens and
“shut-ins” who, without the program, would otherwise go hungry. After
Ohio and New York created similar programs to the one in Philadelphia, a
national program known as the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA)
Although the MOWAA was created based
upon events in Philadelphia, Meals on Wheels began in England in the 1940s. As
a result of the Nazi Germany blitzkrieg and
the bombings of the RAF during World War II, the Women’s Volunteer Service
delivered cooked meals to the hungry in Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Later, in
1952, Australia adopted a similar Meals on Wheels program that was implemented
by a woman delivering food on her tricycle. The Red Cross then stepped in
to support her efforts. Meals on Wheels was officially created in Australia in
1953 in South Melbourne.
The modern efforts of the MOWAA are
based on a Meals on Wheels program that was started in San Diego. This program
was a non-profit organization that coordinated the delivery of food to senior
citizens that need nutrition and human contact. National MOWAA operations are
conducted under the provisions of the “Four Pillars” which provide
for quality senior nutrition. These pillars ensure that meal providers serve
meals to the homebound, have food delivered on weekdays (with some providers
offering extra meals for weekends), facilities for food providers are in
adequate condition to function properly, and to respect the independence of the
Other modern initiatives of MOWAA
include March for Meals, the Rural Initiative, Emergency Preparedness, and
March for Meals is an annual effort to raise funds and
advocate for those that suffer from senior hunger nationwide. It is held in the
month of March and was created to recruit new meal providers and provide
information about senior nutrition.
The Rural Initiative is MOWAA’s effort to extend service to
homebound senior citizens that live in remote, rural locations which challenge
meal providers due to cost and distance restraints.
Emergency Preparedness guidelines have been established by
the MOWAA in order for Senior Nutrition programs and meal providers to respond
to the needs of seniors in emergency situations.
WALOP, or We All Love Our Pets, is an initiative to provide
services for the pets of homebound senior citizens. This initiative was
introduced in 2006.
The MOWAA has also created the MOWAA
Foundation which performs studies about senior nutrition needs and the
nutrition needs of the disabled in the United States. A 2007 study entitled The Causes, Consequences and Future of
Senior Hunger in America provided statistics on those suffering from
senior hunger and those at risk.
The Meals on Wheels Association of
America is the oldest and most expansive program in the United States to meet
the needs of senior nutrition and the nutrition of people with disabilities
through a form of