Age Well: Meals on Wheels for Older Vermonters

2021 Grant Amount: $7,500

It is our sincere hope that during this time of great need, that the City Market Co-op Seedling Grant fund will support our efforts and consider funding our Meals on Wheels program where there is the greatest need and largest funding gap. Age Well is committed to providing recipients of Meals on Wheels in Northwestern Vermont with the programs and services that support their independence and improve quality of life and health outcomes. With the significant increase in those who need our services and the consistent decrease in federal and state funding, we need your support to continue delivering nutritious meals and safety checks in our community.

In Burlington alone during in Fiscal Year 2020 (10/1/19-9/30/20) we served 346 residents 54,748 home-delivered meals. Meals on Wheels is designed to meet the nutritional and social needs of our most vulnerable and high-risk senior and disabled populations. The goal of Meals on Wheels is to improve and/or maintain the health of homebound, chronically ill, and impaired older persons by providing nutritious meals, a daily check and reporting system, and a social contact to enable them to remain living independently and safely in their home as long as possible while avoiding far costlier alternatives.

All recipes are approved by a Registered Dietitian and meet Older Americans Act (OAA) nutrition guidelines to help maintain health and assist the recipients in managing chronic health issues. Each meal provides a complete meal, providing 1/3 of the daily needs of people over the age of 60. Additionally, Age Well is proud to offer 7 medically- tailored meal options including Heart Healthy, Diabetic Friendly, Lactose-Free, and Gluten-Free as well as texture modification to help people manage their chronic health conditions.

As the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in Vermont, Age Well oversees more than 65 routes throughout Addison, Franklin, Grand Isle, and Chittenden Counties – serving more than 250,000 meals annually. When a Meals on Wheels volunteer knocks on the door, aging Vermonters are receiving not only a meal but so much more. Being invited into the homes of thousands of our most high-risk seniors and disabled individuals is an honor and privilege. It’s also the first and one of the most effective lines of defense in avoiding additional healthcare costs.

Every visit comes with a nutritious meal created to address the specific health conditions of the senior, a safety check around the house (during the pandemic, this was being done through telehealth), and an assessment of any changes that might impact future needs. This can mean the difference between independent living at home and an unwelcome transfer to a costly long-term care facility.

The cost of 1 day in the hospital is $2,633 and the cost of 1 day in a nursing home is $353. Meals on Wheels can serve a senior for an entire year for about the same cost as just one day in a hospital or 10 days in a nursing home. The frequent visits provide unique opportunities to meet nutritional needs combat social isolation. We are experiencing a significant increase in the number of individuals who need our services, coupled with a decrease in funding and an increase in meal costs. Meals on Wheels not only helps our aging neighbors thrive, but also relies on collaboration from our community partners, volunteers and businesses to meet the ever-growing need, ensuring that no senior is left behind. Our goal is to keep older Vermonters healthy and supported at home and in the community that they want to live.