RICHMOND, Va. – Eight out of 10 local Meals on Wheels programs are still delivering meals to more older adults than they were prior to the pandemic. Feed More’s Meals on Wheels in Central Virginia is one of those programs.

In February 2023, Feed More served 3,020 more meals to 130 more clients than in February 2020. The increased number of clients in need is happening against a backdrop of soaring operational and food costs, even as inflation slows.

This is why Feed More’s leadership says this year’s March for Meals Community Champions Week is especially needed. They’re utilizing the platforms of Richmond’s elected officials and personalities to bring attention to the ongoing need for programs like Feed More’s Meals on Wheels.

The annual “March for Meals” event celebrates the signing of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program into law on March 22, 1972. As the first federal program to support the health and well-being of older adults through nutrition services, the program enabled the creation of national senior nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels, which now serve 2.8 million seniors across America each year.

8News anchor Deanna Allbrittin helped kick off Central Virginia’s Community Champions Week with her weekly food delivery route in South Richmond. She spoke with some of the clients she’s been getting to know over the year about their experience with Meals on Wheels.

Irving Melton has been a client with Meals on Wheels since he broke his back two years ago, leaving him in a wheelchair and unable to cook for himself. Since then, he says he’s had other injuries that have continued to make it difficult to feed himself, making him dependent on the meals he gets from Feed More.

“Getting at least the one meal a day helps, you know,” he said. “I can snack around that.”

For many clients, the tray and bag of food they get from Meals on Wheels is the only real meal they eat every day. Some even eat it as soon as it’s dropped off, further underscoring the depth of food insecurity and nutritional needs for many seniors and homebody clients served by Meals on Wheels.

Another client, Sheila Belle, said that while she’s able to get up and cook for herself sometimes, her doctors recommended Meals on Wheels because her health conditions necessitated scaling back her time over the stove.

“I’m not really able to do as much as I normally do in the kitchen, so this is more convenient for me,” Belle said. “I still try, but right now I’m a little slow.”

(Photo: Tim Corley, 8News)

Taking that day’s meal of chicken pot pie and collard greens, with a roll, butter and cup of peaches, Belle noted that the meals are well-balanced and often taste like something she might have made.

“I wait on it,” Belle said, emphasizing the importance of the meals. “I wait on it and if I’m not here, I try to make arrangements for somebody to pick it up for me.”

Beyond the food, they’re also getting daily connections with a volunteer who can connect with Feed More’s Client Services if there are any concerns or need for additional resources.

In 2022, those volunteers prepared 427,950 meals for 2,800 Meals on Wheels clients throughout 10 counties and four cities in the Greater Richmond area.

March for Meals Community Champions Week will continue to highlight that work and the need for more volunteers from March 20 through 24.

Click here to find more information about volunteering.