Red Cross celebrates 50 years of Meals on Wheels

Topics: Ontario, Community Health
November 13, 2013

The Canadian Red Cross was the first organization to bring Meals on Wheels to Canada and the program is celebrating a milestone anniversary this week. Meals on Wheels began as a Red Cross program 50 years ago as of this Thursday, November 14.

The program was established in Brantford Ontario in 1963 after resident Elsie Matthews approached the Red Cross with the idea to replicate a unique program she witnessed while travelling in England. The idea was to deliver meals to seniors in their homes and Elsie decided the community of Brantford could benefit from the same program. The local Red Cross offered the use of the branch’s kitchen and station wagon to establish the program in Brantford.

Meals on Wheels benefits people who do not have access to regular nutritious meals by providing them with hot and frozen meals delivered to their home. This service can be an invaluable resource for individuals looking to maintain their independence. Clients include seniors, convalescing adults, those with chronic illness, and individuals with physical or mental challenges.

“For many of our Meals on Wheels recipients, it is not just the nutritious meals they receive but also the interaction with the volunteers who deliver the meals,” said Judi Mikolich, Community Services Coordinator. “For some, it may be the only contact they have in a given day and it can mean so much to them to say hello and exchange a few words.”

In its inaugural year, meals were delivered to 12 clients per week at a cost of $0.50 each. Now, a professional chef and 85 volunteers provide over 14,000 hot and frozen meals per month to more than 250 clients in the Brantford area alone. This program is offered throughout through many branches across Ontario and select branches across Canada. Demand for this service is expected to increase as the population ages and the health care system requires more patients to recover from illness or injury at home.

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