Survey highlights local impacts of Meals on Wheels

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

Meals on Wheels supports independence, reduces loneliness, and helps with food security, according to a recent survey of residents receiving the meals through Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).

More than 240 Cambridge and Somerville residents responded to the survey, which is conducted annually by the SCES Nutrition program to assess the impact and quality of the program.

Just under half of survey respondents said they would have a shortage of food without Meals on Wheels, with 72% saying the program provides their main meal of the day.

Two-thirds of respondents reported that they live alone, with only their Meals on Wheels driver checking-in daily. A similar percentage indicated they feel less lonely because of their driver.

SCES Nutrition Director Meghan Ostrander said the data highlights how Meals on Wheels is helping local older adults maintain health and independence.

“The meals we deliver fill a critical nutritional need, but it’s only part of the story,” said Ostrander. “There are many days that our drivers are the only outside contact for the people we serve. The drivers provide both a friendly interaction and check on the client’s well-being, both of which have taken on greater importance during the prolonged isolation many of us are facing during the pandemic.”

Other notable responses from the survey include:

94% rated experiences with their driver as ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’

90% said the program helps them live independently in the community

88% said they would recommend the meals to a friend

87% said the meals help them eat healthier

84% said the meals help them feel better

82% said they receive five or more meals per week through the program

78% said the meals help them maintain a healthy weight

The SCES Meals on Wheels program serves more than 1,000 older adults and people with disabilities in Cambridge and Somerville. In addition to the standard menu, Caribbean, Chinese, Portuguese, low lactose and vegetarian meals are available. Therapeutic meals to accommodate medical conditions are also available.

SCES Meals on Wheels is available to Cambridge and Somerville residents age 60 and older, and their spouses or dependents with disabilities. The program is free, but voluntary donations are requested.

In addition to Meals on Wheels, SCES Nutrition offers congregate meals, nutrition counseling, low cost nutrition supplements, and a monthly grocery supplement program for eligible homes.

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