Meals on Wheels service began in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1974
Meals on Wheels of Greater Lynchburg is designed to assist the homebound community by providing a balanced, nutritious, hot lunch five days each week.
Each year, over 1,000 volunteers deliver over 132,000 hot meals to the homebound. In 2019 we celebrated a double milestone: our 45th anniversary, and the delivery of our 2.5 millionth meal since 1974!
Because we do not accept any state or federal funding for our meals, we are not bound by much of the bureaucracy that accompanies those monies. If they meet our other criteria, we serve any adult, regardless of age or income for either an extended or short period of time. Our program serves people who need prepared meals due to permanent or temporary disabilities.
In addition, the Meals on Wheels delivery also provides a reassuring “check-in” to those who live alone. Any unanswered delivery is reported and investigated. Changes in a client’s health or needs are followed up on by Meals on Wheels staff. If appropriate, referrals to family, physician, or community service organizations are made.
In November 2019, Meals on Wheels of Greater Lynchburg began operating a remote pickup site in Rustburg. Routes originate at 684 Village Highway (on Main Street), and we are now more able to bridge the gaps in service to the homebound in Campbell County.
In October 2020, we launched our Mobile Distribution Vehicle, transporting meals from the kitchen, for pickup closer to their destinations. This allows volunteers to spend less time getting started, and more time on delivery.
Historically, the Red Cross in London, England, originated the concept of Meals on Wheels after World War II. Over the next several decades, the concept spread to other countries around the world. In the US, the concept began as early as 1954, spreading state by state, community by community. The actual structure in each community is unique, although the basic mission remains the same: to deliver healthy meals to the homebound who are unable to afford or prepare meals for themselves.
In larger, metropolitan areas, the Meals on Wheels organization may be combined under the umbrella of a central kitchen/area foodbank/emergency feeding program.
In other areas, the Meals on Wheels organization may be an integral part of the senior center. In still other localities, the organization might operate independently, but in cooperation and close collaboration with complimenting services.
Meals on Wheels America
Nationally, in 2019, Meals on Wheels provided approximately 220 million meals to 2.4 million Americans. Meals on Wheels America (MOWA) is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. MOWA is the oldest and largest organization in the United States representing those who provide meal services to seniors in need, specifically those at risk of or experiencing hunger. MOWA is a non-profit organization working toward the social, physical, nutritional, and economic betterment of vulnerable Americans by providing the tools and information its programs need to make a difference in the lives of others.
In Lynchburg, we operate independently of other organizations, but we have a clear understanding of the value of collaborating with our partner services and reducing duplication of service wherever possible.
Read more here about the epidemic of isolation and loneliness.
A Few More Facts
In 2021, over 1,000 volunteers delivered over 129,000 meals to people of all ages in the Lynchburg area.
Through the Animeals Program, 50 pets of meal recipients were provided with a monthly supplement of food through donations from individuals in the community.
The cost of a one-year supply of home-delivered meals is roughly equal to one day in the hospital.
At last count approximately 80% of the people we serve receive their meals at no charge to them; 10-12% pay the full amount. Between 8-10% are charged on a sliding scale, based on ability to pay.
One in six seniors faces the threat of hunger, according to the State of Senior Hunger in America. In the last 15 years, the number of seniors in America suffering from food insecurity jumped by 45 percent.
Food insecurity is dangerous for everyone but for the elderly in particular.
Hungry seniors are :
60 percent more likely to experience depression,
53 percent more likely to report a heart attack and
52 percent more likely to develop asthma.
Those who live alone are at particular risk.
Isolation is now considered a major health risk:
As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity
Loneliness affects the production of white blood cells, which impairs the immune system’s ability to fight infections.
In the U.S., roughly 1 in 3 older people live alone
Half of those older than 85 live alone
“The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem. It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore older adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”
– Dr. Carla Perissinotto