Meals on Wheels of the Lehigh Valley

Effectiveness of Meals on Wheels Programs Confirmed by National Study

During the month of March, we celebrate Meals on Wheels programs across the country for their role in keeping our seniors healthy, independent and happy.  Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County and Meals on Wheels of Northampton County serve over 1060 people each weekday.  We know that the service we provide–daily nutritious meals delivered by friendly, caring volunteers–positively impacts the lives of our homebound neighbors because our clients and their families tell us this on a daily basis.  We also conduct satisfaction surveys annually which corroborate what we hear daily.

A new national study commissioned by Meals on Wheels America in conjunction with the AARP Foundation and conducted by researchers at Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research validates what we have known all along.

This March, 2015 study, conducted in winter of 2013 and spring of 2014, set out to demonstrate the effectiveness of home-delivered meals from the standpoint of traditional daily-delivered meals versus frozen weekly delivered meals. The findings overwhelmingly support the value of daily home-delivered meals as the most beneficial and successful model of meal delivery for homebound older adults.  The results of the study were derived from responses to an extensive questionnaire conducted with 626 individuals receiving services from Meals on Wheels organizations in eight states across the country.

The most significant finding was that that those who received daily-delivered meals experienced the greatest improvements in health and quality of life.  Respondents receiving daily-delivered meals were more likely to exhibit: improvements in mental health (i.e., anxiety); improvements in self-rated health; reductions in the rate of falls; improvements in feelings of isolation and loneliness; and  decreases in worry about being able to remain in home.  They also were more likely to attribute their meals to making them feel safer and report that their meals helped them to eat healthier foods than the group receiving frozen meals.

As we continue to look for the most cost-effective way to deliver services to our rapidly aging population, we must keep in mind that we need to invest both private and public dollars in programs that bring the most value per dollar.  Daily, home-delivered meals provide an array of benefits that result in cost savings in the long-run because they help keep people safe, healthy and happy in their own homes instead of expensive institutional or health care settings.


Pamela S. Bechtel, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County


JoAnn Bergeron Nenow, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Northampton County


Information Provided By:

Michele Grasso, MPA

Development Director

Meals on Wheels of Lehigh County

4234 Dorney Park Rd.

Allentown, PA 18104