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Challenges Facing Meals on Wheels Programs

 

As we delve deeper into March for Meals, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the crucial role of Meals on Wheels programs, it’s essential to shed light on the challenges that providers like Oakville Meals on Wheels face. Despite the invaluable service they provide to our communities, these programs encounter numerous obstacles that threaten their ability to deliver meals to those in need.

 

Funding

Meals on Wheels programs across Ontario face the challenge of limited funding sources, affecting their efforts to maintain the quality and accessibility of the services they offer. Oakville Meals on Wheels is no different. We are almost entirely community-funded – receiving no annual government funds to operate our program. We receive agency support and partial funding from the United Way, as well as funds from grants and foundations. However, each year, the scope of our programming is directly correlated with how our donors step up to the plate. Their donations directly impact which services, such as our subsidy program, we can offer to the community.

 

Subsidy

At Oakville Meals on Wheels, we have been fortunate enough to continuously offer our subsidy program to the underserved in Oakville, thanks to the generosity of our donors. However, programs across the province, including ours, have been struggling to keep up with inflation, particularly rising food and gas prices. Ongoing challenges include sourcing affordable and nutritious food options, sustainable packaging, and meal delivery supplies. Additionally, increased financial pressures and aging demographics result in higher demand for Meals on Wheels services, further straining limited resources. The demand for our subsidy program alone has tripled since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Volunteering

Oakville Meals on Wheels has a team of over 80 active volunteers, and we are grateful for their commitment to the community. However, Meals on Wheels programs in general are struggling to find volunteers to meet the growing demand for services. The pandemic-induced decline in volunteer drivers, primarily seniors who have not resumed their roles, is a challenge faced by OMoW as well. Volunteer drivers, in particular, are one of the hardest roles to fill.

 

Competition

The proliferation of food delivery services and online apps has made it easier for individuals to access a wide range of meal options delivered to their homes. This phenomenon further intensifies the competition faced by non-profit organizations like Oakville Meals on Wheels. For-profit providers may offer meals that cost more and lack the quality and nutritional balance. This underscores the importance of the attention to nutrition we prioritize in our meals. Our volunteers deliver meals at no charge and also provide an informal wellness check, so family and friends know their loved ones are thriving. This is what sets our program apart from the drop-and-go meal delivery services that are so popular in today’s culture.

 

How to Help Us

During March for Meals, you can support Oakville Meals on Wheels in various ways:

  • Participate in our #SponsorLunch campaign to sponsor a lunch for someone in need. Click here!
  • Spread the word about the challenges facing Meals on Wheels programs and help increase the support and funding.
Follow our social channels for more ways to help:

 

By raising awareness and rallying support, together, we can help ensure that Oakville Meals on Wheels continue to fulfill its vital mission of driving care into the community.

Let’s face these challenges together!

 

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