Having meals delivered at home can be handy for nearly everyone -- no matter your age, income level, or mobility. These days, there are many options for meal delivery, from Meals on Wheels to gourmet meal delivery. So whether you’re just too busy to cook, or a medical condition makes preparing meals too difficult, there’s a home delivery option that’s likely right for you.
We asked Kathleen Zelman, RD, director of nutrition at WebMD, about the different meal delivery services available for those over 60.
Meals on Wheels: Nutrition Home Delivery
The Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the largest and oldest organization that provides meals to seniors. Although MOWAA is a national organization, it operates on a local level -- with about 5,000 senior nutrition programs across all 50 states. Each program, and the types of meals it offers, varies from area to area. But one thing remains consistent -- the level of nutrition the programs provide. Each meal served meets one-third of the daily dietary guidelines for seniors.
"The great thing about the Meals on Wheels program is that a nutritionist is making sure you’re getting the nutrition you need," says Zelman. "So you can be assured of having at least one square meal a day."
"Meals on Wheels is a nutrition program, not just a feeding program; that’s what sets us apart from other food programs," says Margaret B. Ingraham, senior vice president for public policy at MOWAA. "We’re not just trying to feed people, but to provide at least one nutritious meal each day. Each meal contains an entrée, vegetable, a starch and fruit, as well as a beverage. And most of the meals are also low in sodium."
Although the menus vary locally, some programs provide options for people who have special dietary needs, such as meals for those who are vegetarian or who have diabetes or chewing problems. Some locations also provide an ethnic meal option, depending on their local population.
Most of the programs serve one meal a day each weekday, though some serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. Depending on the program, meals may be delivered hot, cold, or frozen, ready for reheating. In some cases, MOWAA can even provide a microwave to make sure clients can reheat the meals.
All homebound adults aged 60 or older are eligible for Meals on Wheels, regardless of income. "Most programs request a small donation for meals, or offer a sliding scale, but no one is turned away if they can't pay," says Ingraham. To find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mowaa.org or call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.