Oct 08, 2014
By Sonja Alcock (referenced from Wikipedia)
It all really started during WWII in England during the “Blitz”, the bombing of the UK by German forces, which destroyed the homes of many people. Therefore they were unable to cook meals on their own. A group of ladies from the Women’s Volunteer Service (WVS) provided and delivered food for those who were unable to provide for themselves. The name “Meals on Wheels” came about by the WVS bringing meals to servicemen.
The first home delivery during the war was made in Hertfordshire, England in 1943!! Baby prams were “the wheels” and straw bales or felt hats were used to keep the meals warm during delivery. Eventually the news of what the WVS ladies' “Meals on Wheels” program spread around the world. The program began in Australia in 1952 where the meals were delivered via a tricycle by one lady, until the Red Cross stepped in to help.
In 1954 the first home-delivered meal began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Here most of the volunteers were teens and they were given the nickname “Platter Angels”. These teens would cook, pack and deliver the meals to elderly and disabled people in their town.
Eventually it spread across the nation so the organization, “Meals on Wheels Association of America” was established.
In 1963, 20 years after the war, seniors in Brampton, Ontario were the first to receive their meals in Canada!! Brampton Meals on Wheels started with delivering six meals a day!!
Seventy-one years later the delivery of meals is completely different, but the concept is still the same. Meals, either hot or frozen are prepared by volunteers and delivered to shut ins, seniors, and disabled people all across the land. The program has gone from delivering meals by prams and tricycles to cars; from keeping the food warm by using straw bales to modern containers that keep the food fresh and hot in one, or cool and frozen in another.
It has gone from just providing meals to providing companionship as well. Often the only person a senior may see for that day is the one who is delivering them a meal. Depending on the program, some volunteers are paid to drive, but most is done by volunteers. Within each volunteer is a heart for the person to whom they are delivering the meal. They are often the ears and eyes that check on the health and safety of each client, so it goes deeper than just providing a meal; it’s also about providing friendship, support, and care.
Here in the Land O’ Lakes area, Land O’ Lakes Community Services is one of those caring providers who have been running the Meals on Wheels program ever since 1997. There are 20 volunteers, from cooks, to drivers providing between 40 to 50 meals per week for about 36 to 40 seniors in our area. (This data will vary from week to week).
And to add to our little history lesson about Meals on Wheels, it goes in a full circle. When it first started during the second war, meals were delivered to servicemen. Today one of our delivery volunteers is a retired serviceman!! So when he comes to your door give him a hug for his service to our country, and to our community.