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Meals on Wheels; Feeding Body and Soul

This year I thought that I would do something a little different.

Food, obviously, is a passion.  So is volunteering.  This year I wanted to share some of the charitable organizations in Edmonton that help feed the city.  We have a lot of great volunteers and staff that help keep hunger at bay.

One of the day job duties that I was most happy to perform over the years was to find resources for the clients that I was working with in case of an emergency.  They were on very low incomes, so I learned a lot about where people could go in Edmonton when they need help.  I can’t say I know all of them, because the list is extensive.

The first organization that I would like to share with you is “Meals on Wheels“.

Edmonton Meals on Wheels is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide nutritious meals and related programs which promote health, well-being and independence for the clients they serve.

When you first walk in the door you are given a look a the “Chef’s Choice” menu board.

Meals on Wheels Chef's Choice

Chef’s Choice branded menu board

As you can see from the very beginning, the meals are very tailored to individual taste and dietary needs.  Halal and vegan options are available.

Meals on Wheels clientele is largely made up of seniors, the average age being 84.  You don’t have to be a senior to access the services.  If you qualify, the meals are subsidized.  Meals are delivered to the door, which is great for people that are housebound or just find it difficult to get out and about.  It gives seniors more independence whether or not they have home care services.

All of the food is prepared on site with fresh ingredients.  The kitchen has 6.5 staff and the rest of the people on the production line every weekday are volunteers. Meals are prepared by the Red Seal Staff Cooks under the direction of Robin, their Executive Chef.

This April, Meals on Wheels Edmonton will be celebrating their 47th year!  Watch for lights on the High Level Bridge and some special guest delivery drivers!

I got an insider’s look and was able to operate the heat sealer on the morning I was there.  It is quite the production!

Meals on Wheels Production LIne

Meals on Wheels production line

Meals on Wheels Meal

Today’s Menu the main meal heat sealed

There are many different dietary needs that are covered, both medical and preference. Each meal package is carefully put together, and audited at the end of the line to make sure the order is correct.

The carefully prepared and packaged meals are then loaded into the vehicles of the driving volunteers and delivered to the door of the client.  During peak periods of the year, this is a monumental feat of 240 meals per day.

Not only does this help with making sure people get nutritious meals, it also helps with social interaction and general well being, up to five times a week.  Brown University did a study on the whole Meals on Wheels organization as a whole and put their findings in this article: Meal Deliveries Benefit Seniors.

Not only does Meals on Wheels deliver meals, they have “Store Thru Door” personalized grocery shopping. The volunteer comes to the door, takes the list the client has prepared, does the shopping and delivers the groceries!  They also provide pet food delivery.

Chef’s Choice also has a catering division.  They will deliver soup and sandwiches to your location for your next company function or lunch and learn.

Lastly, there is a Chef’s Choice frozen line that can be picked up, or delivered twice a week.

Meals on Wheels is always looking for great volunteers.  There are mostly daytime hours available, but there are two evening shifts per week delivering the Chef’s Choice frozen line that could use helping hands as well.

Don’t have the time to volunteer? You can also donate a monetary contribution.

Need a great team-building exercise for your office?  The production line is a well-oiled machine, and a great way to get some volunteer hours in!


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