Survey highlights impact of Meals on Wheels during COVID

Meals on Wheels Driver Martha Crowley packs meals for morning delivery at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services. SCES FILE PHOTO

Meals on Wheels helps older adults live independently, and it also reduces food insecurity and isolation, according to a recent survey conducted by Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).

Out of more than 250 survey respondents, 87 percent said the meals help them live independently.

More than 70 percent of respondents said Meals on Wheels is their main meal of the day. Nearly half said they would have a food shortage without it.

Half of the respondents indicated they live alone, with no one to check on them but their driver. Roughly two-thirds said their driver makes them feel less lonely.

“Isolation and food security have been major challenges for many older adults during the pandemic, and it is really heartening to hear we are making a difference there,” said SCES Nutrition Direction Meghan Ostrander.

The Meals on Wheels survey is conducted annually to help measure the impact and quality of services.

SCES Meals on Wheels delivers roughly 1,000 meals per day during the week. Ostrander added that demand temporarily jumped by more than 20 percent last spring, as things shut down because of the pandemic.

“We had a lot of calls last spring from people with critical and desperate need,” said Ostrander. “It was the main food source for these people who were trying to shelter in place and avoid crowded spaces.”

Ostrander also thanked the Meals on Wheels drivers for their reliability and resilience during the pandemic.

“The drivers have been really amazing,” said Ostrander. “They were out there delivering meals for 30 or 40 people each day, and these survey responses really highlight how essential their work is.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

Meals on Wheels supports health

  • 78 percent said the meals improve their health
  • 78 percent said the meals help them eat healthier
  • 78 percent said the meals help them maintain a healthy weight
  • 85 percent said the meals make them feel better

Client satisfaction

  • 87 percent said they would recommend the meals to a friend.
  • 90 percent said the experience with their driver was excellent or good.


SCES Meals on Wheels is open to residents of Cambridge and Somerville who are age 60 or over. Meals on Wheels is also available for client spouses or dependents with disabilities who may be under 60. There is no charge, but a voluntary donation is requested to help support the program.


Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older adults in Somerville and Cambridge. For free advice and guidance on questions of aging, caregiving or disability, contact our Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601, email, or visit our website