Summer Meals on Wheels: An Intergenerational Partnership
May 1, 2014
Will Thomas, Public Policy & Research Associate, Meals on Wheels Association of America
Today in the United States, one in four kids and one in six seniors are struggling with hunger. That only gets worse during the summer, when school meals aren’t available to kids and the summer heat squeezes already tight budgets for seniors. Thankfully, some enterprising Meals on Wheels programs and childhood hunger advocates have teamed up to serve both populations.
One such program is Horizons: A Family Service Alliance of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a member of the Meals On Wheels Association of America. Horizons was recruited by the local United Way to become a sponsor for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a USDA program meant to feed hungry kids during the summer. In conjunction with the local Parks and Recreation Department, they embarked upon the journey of feeding both kids and seniors, and the results couldn’t have been better.
Not only did Horizons learn that their experience with Older Americans Act nutrition programs and food service made them uniquely prepared to take on SFSP, but they were able to serve both populations healthy food and minimize waste. They were able to provide thousands of meals to kids while yielding a financial gain and increasing the organization’s volunteer capacity. Able-bodied seniors were able to serve as volunteers at some SFSP sites, and friendships were forged across generations. Horizons was even able to discover a new senior center in their community where they began serving congregate meals as a result of their newfound partnership with the local Parks and Recreation Department.