Fifty years ago today—on Feb. 6, 1969—Meals on Wheels of RI founder Joseph Brown established our Home-Delivered Meal Program, offering 17 homebound Providence seniors a daily nutritious meal.
A small group of volunteers took turns delivering the meals. There was just one delivery route, but Mr. Brown knew how much of a difference that one meal made to the seniors he served.
These seniors were Rhode Islanders who, due to a physical and/or mental impairment, were unable to safely shop for or prepare a meal on their own.
That much has remained the same since Mr. Brown first recognized the need for such a program—we still serve homebound seniors—but so much more has changed.
Today, as we begin celebrating our 50th anniversary, the Home-Delivered Meal Program reaches about 2,500 in-need seniors each year. Not only do these frail seniors receive a complete, nutritious meal each week day, they also enjoy a visit with one of our trained volunteers. For many, it is the only time they see another person all day.
Our more than 700 trained volunteers deliver these meals through 79 routes throughout the state. Each time a volunteer delivers a meal, they also ensure that a homebound senior is safe and uninjured, that they are not under distress and, of course, that they have access to a healthy meal they might not otherwise have.
Over the last 50 years, we have developed other, life-changing programs. More mobile seniors can enjoy a socialized meal at one of our eight Capital City Café sites—greatly reducing their feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Seniors able to do so can utilize our Senior Restaurant Program, dining out at several restaurants in the greater Providence area. Our Pet Food Program means none of our homebound seniors need to worry about feeding their furry companions. Their dogs and cats provide invaluable comfort, reducing stress and anxiety.
And, our Senior Wish Program provides essential items such as air conditioners and blankets to seniors who cannot afford to purchase these everyday items on their own.
As much as we have grown, there is still so much more to be done and we continue our fight to end senior hunger isolation in Rhode Island.
Stay tuned for updates on 50th anniversary celebrations and next month’s annual March for Meals public awareness and fundraising campaigns. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore all the ways we are much “more than just a meal” at www.rimeals.org.
Thank you for your continued support of our seniors!