Meal Delivery Programs for Seniors

Can meal delivery programs for seniors benefit your elderly parent(s)?

Seniors living independently at home may lack the desire to cook balanced meals for themselves, or have the funds to do so, or transportation to and from the supermarket.

Some are unable to cook themselves, but are still able to take care of most of their needs at home. In such situations, programs such as a prepared meal delivery offer options as well as balanced, nutritional meals for seniors.

Meal Delivery Program Options

One of the most well known programs for senior is the Meals On Wheels program. This program is a nutritional support service offered by many communities. Actually, there are over 200 programs that provide nutritious support services to seniors administered under Title VI of the Older Americans Act.

These prepared meal delivery programs may offer between one and two hot and cold meals a day. Grocery stores in certain areas are also available throughout the country to deliver groceries, or such arrangements may be made with local supermarkets, depending on need.

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The benefits of meal delivery programs offer older individuals the convenience and benefits of healthy eating to help reduce weight loss, malnutrition, muscle weakness and fatigue as well as increase independence and the opportunity to age in place longer. Home delivered meals help seniors maintain health and wellness in the event they're unable to cook, go shopping, or design adequate and nutritious meal plans on their own.

How Much do Meal Delivery Programs Cost?

Prepared meal delivery programs are offered at reasonable prices for community seniors. Need and cost is based on economic considerations as well as social needs.

Programs offer nutritious meals as well as some nutrition education to home bound seniors over 60 years of age, as well as those who are mobile but are unable to provide adequate nutrition for themselves. Titles III and VI of the Older Americans Act as well as the Administration on Aging offers a variety of community-based nutritious programs for seniors under the Elderly Nutrition Program.

Accessing Meal Programs

Seniors interested in prepared meal delivery programs in their area should contact their state or county Administration on Aging to determine options for a meal preparation and delivery services in their area. You can also contact your state's aging services division, which will provide information regarding community-based services including home delivered meals.

Meals on Wheels is another program offering well-balanced and nutritious meals that also cater to special needs such as those on low fat, low sugar, or low sodium diets. Each meal offered by the Meals on Wheels organization meets the recommended daily allowance for adults.

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For example, hot meals are delivered Monday through Friday and may include sample items such as:

  • Hot Turkey with gravy, stuffing, peas, a wheat roll and cherries
  • Beef ravioli with Italian vegetables
  • Teriyaki chicken with steamed rice
  • Veal cutlets with couscous and mixed vegetables
  • Ham slices with sauce and scalloped potatoes

Meals typically offer a main meat entree, vegetables, a carbohydrate in the form of rice, potatoes, pasta and bread, and a fruit dessert. Meals are delivered in individualized trays wrapped in foil so they're hot and ready upon delivery.

According to the Meals and Wheels organization, the majority of clients receiving hot meals on a daily basis are around 80 years old, living alone, and on incomes of less than $1,000 a month.


Meals on Wheels food programs are generally offered by senior centers, hospitals or religious organizations in your area. A majority of them are free, and must be free if those organizations receive Federal funds. Some may need to solicit donations, while other private organizations or groups may charge a very small fee.

In order to be eligible for a Meals on Wheels program, the senior must be generally home bound and unable to prepare nutritious or well balanced meals on their own. There's usually no income limit. To find out more about delivery programs in your area, or to make a donation, visit the Meals on Wheels Association

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