New Study:  Meals on Wheels Reduces Isolation, Loneliness of Clients and Helps Improve Safety  

A Brown University study released in March shows Meals on Wheels (MoW) America’s “More Than Just A Meal” motto is much more than just a catchy phrase.

The report’s findings back up earlier anecdotal evidence that the recipients of MoW’s daily food deliveries feel safer, healthier, less isolated, not as lonely and less worried.  Conducted in late 2013 and early 2014, the 15-week study analyzes the answers of 626 people in eight MoW programs around the country who either were receiving daily meals, weekly meals or were still on a waiting list and not yet receiving food.

The numbers for those receiving daily meal deliveries are predictably the most impressive:

  • Nearly 80 percent who had fallen in the past did not fall during the study period.
  • Among those living alone, 42 percent reported they were less worried after becoming daily MoW recipients.
  • More than 35 percent felt less isolated and 46 percent felt less lonely.
  • About 80 percent said they now feel safer in their homes. When asked why they feel safer, one replied, “Someone is checking on me.  If I fall, they can call an ambulance.”  Another said, “Someone [sees] me daily.”
  • Nearly three-fifths — 59 percent — said they now routinely eat healthier food.
  • And 99 percent said they will recommend MoW to others. “People [delivering the food] are courteous [and the] food is good — always hot!”  said one survey respondent.  Another noted that “it is great to see someone every day and a lot of the people who volunteer [to deliver] I knew back in the day.”

For study author Kali Thomas, a Brown University assistant professor of health services, policy and practice, the results confirm what she has always thought about the MoW program.  “My granny, who lived to be 98 while still independent in her home, was grateful [to receive] the meals and enjoyed the visits with her meals delivery person,” she said.  “It was because of her experience that I began volunteering and had the opportunity to witness first-hand the benefits that Meals on Wheels provides.  Our research supports the hypothesis that the delivery, in addition to the meal itself, has numerous positive impacts on clients’ lives.”

Read how you can use this study to advocate for Meals on Wheels here!

Jeff Trewhitt, contributing writer and MOW volunteer.More than Just a Meal


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