Day #28: Give with Meals on Wheels in Austin, TX

At 2am on every day of the week, a team of food preparers arrives at a gigantic kitchen in downtown Austin and starts preparing hot meals for people all over the city. Meals on Wheels and More seeks to “nourish and enrich the lives of the homebound and other people in need through programs that promote dignity and independent living.”

Our family toured the facility this morning (at 9am, not 2am!). We watched as meals were assembled and met the CEO & other members of the staff. Meals on Wheels Austin serves over one million meals each year to people in the Austin area who are unable to shop for and prepare nourishing meals on their own.

Meals on Wheels has kitchens and volunteers in every state in the USA. You have probably seen their logo on a truck or driven by a facility. What you may not know is that this organization provides much more then food. The volunteers who deliver the meals are given specific routes. A typical volunteer driver will work once a week on an hour route. He or she will deliver to the same people each week, leaning the names of each person on their route, and eventually developing relationships with them.

Besides hot meals, Meals on Wheels in Austin offers an expanding list of other resources. One of them we thought was neat was the Care Calls Program. This program matches homebound clients with “Phone Friends” who call either once a day for a friendly check-in or twice a week for a longer chat.

We were impressed with Meals on Wheels, partly because of the feat of making so many meals, but even more so for the personal relationships that are developed out of the programs for lonely seniors and homebound individuals.

Have you ever volunteered with Meals on Wheels? Search a list of national programs to find a program in your area.

Comments

  1. That is a great organization. I remember when my sister and I were children, my grandparents would pick us up and take us on their route to deliver meals.

  2. We used to deliver meals on wheels on Thanksgiving as kids. I would like to do this, but I’m always concerned that the routes are in unsafe areas (they tended to be in my hometown) and don’t really want to have to get two kids out of carseats at each house, or leave them while I drop the food off. But the calling program is something I might be able to do, I never knew such a thing existed.

  3. Wow! What a great organization. Do the homebound people pay for the meals? I didn’t realize you could volunteer. I thought meals on wheels was just a normal business. Shame on me:)

  4. I didn’t realize that Meals On Wheels had a phone-friend program – that is great! I haven’t ever volunteered with Meals on Wheels but had a good friend that did and he enjoyed it very much.

  5. Thanks, Tim & Stephanie for coming by to learn more about Meals on Wheels and More last week! To answer some of the questions that have popped up, I wanted to mention that all Meals on Wheels organizations are run on a local, independent level, so each one functions differently. In Austin, we do not charge for meals, though clients can donate if they’re able and would like to. We also rely on volunteers to deliver 90 percent of the meals we distribute, which means we can spend more of our budget on food and therefore serve more people in need. Care Calls is one of our “And More” programs – programs which are designed to provide more support to our clients and are unique to our organization. We urge everyone to reach out to their local Meals on Wheels and learn more about the volunteer opportunities and needs that exist in their communities!

  6. Meals on Wheels is such an amazing program. My grandma had to use the service and currently Scott’s grandpa is using it. It is such a huge help- not only for the elderly that receives it, but for their family.

  7. I love that they are also forming thoughtful and personal relationship with individuals :) Thats very impressive.

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