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Meals on Wheels

Keeping Vermont Seniors at Home, Where They Want to Be

With our Meals on Wheels services, we help supply nutritious, home-delivered meals for seniors (regardless of income) who have trouble getting around or preparing their own food.

As the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in Vermont, our community volunteers deliver five days a week in Addison, Franklin, Grand Isle, and Chittenden counties. Our nutritious meals include protein, vegetables, milk, juice, bread, and fruit. Special diets, including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free, renal friendly, diabetic, mechanical soft, and pureed are accommodated. 

Nutritious Meals

Adequate nutrition is necessary for health, functionality and the ability to remain independent. Healthy eating can increase mental acuity, resistance to illness and disease, energy levels, immune system strength, recuperation speed and the ability to manage chronic health problems. Meals on Wheels ensures that seniors have access to adequate nutrition even when family support, mobility and resources are lacking.

Friendly Visit

For many seniors, the trusted Meals on Wheels volunteer or staff member who shows up every day with a meal and a warm smile is the only person they see or speak with all day. This special delivery is the reason to get up in the morning, something to look forward to, and a reminder to take good care of themselves. Seniors traveling to group settings for meals also receive valuable social interaction and companionship. All of us can attest that a meal can be much more than the food on the plate, but also the company across the table.

Safety Check

Along with the inevitable impacts of aging come the increased risks of medical emergencies, falls and other accidents. The safety check that accompanies each meal delivery ensures that, in the case of an emergency or problem, medics will be called, families will be notified and our seniors will not be forgotten.

If you are not going to be home to receive your meal, please call Age Well in advance at 802-662-5006 to cancel your meal delivery or create an alternative delivery arrangement.

Count On Meals on Wheels

With the help of over 1,100 dedicated volunteers and community partners, Age Well oversees over 70 routes, delivering more than 330,000 meals annually to older adults in Northwestern Vermont.

Hi, I’m Chris Moldovan I am the nutrition and wellness director at age well and I oversee the meals on wheels program, the community meals program, our dietitian services as well as health promotion and wellness programming. Today I’ll explain a little bit about each Meals on Wheels is a home delivered meal program that is meant to provide a third of the DRI or daily requirement for an individual over the age of 60. At Age Well we’re really proud of our program. We’re able to provide eight different therapeutic diets. What that means is meals that are medically tailored to meet someone’s needs to manage a chronic illness. We know that many people over the age of 60 have one or more chronic illnesses, things like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and they need to have particular foods to manage. We offer a heart-healthy diet, a diabetic friendly diet, and a meal that is specifically geared for people with renal disease. We also offer a vegetarian diet lacto-ovo so that includes milk eggs and cheese. We have a gluten-free diet lactose free diet and in addition we have mechanically altered diets mechanical soft which is like fork tender so it’s easy for an individual to cut and chew the food, or puree for those people that have additional swallowing problems or very poor dentition. We offer meals on wheels in all four counties, all towns in those counties and we deliver daily Monday through Friday for those people that need weekend meals they would be receiving frozen meals for the weekend. Our volunteer program is so important to the Meals on Wheels program because as you know every day we need volunteers to show up, arrive, take those meals, and deliver to the individuals who need them. They provide safety checks, you’ll hear more about those later. What we do now is we contract with Trio Food Service out of Rutland, Vermont and they work with us to provide our meals. They prepare fully cooked, chilled meals that are packed by roots so what that means is we have staff at Age Well who work in Nutrition Support to customize the meal schedule as well as the dietary pattern. For that individual those meals are packed in Rutland in coolers, brought up to what we call hubs or locations in the community where a volunteer would arrive, pick up the cooler packed for the route. Inside that cooler is a detailed route sheet explaining who the individuals are, what their address is, what meal type they need and how many meals they’re getting that day. The volunteer then takes those meals, drives them out, delivers them to the individual. They might be more palatable if the individual heats them, but they could be refrigerated if the person wanted to eat them later on in the afternoon or even for an evening meal. We also have a community meals program or congregate meals. They sign up in advance, they show up on a given day at a particular location scattered about our four counties and they eat the same meal with their friends and community members, maybe even family members and enjoy that nutritious meal that meets the older Americans act guidelines I mentioned earlier. About the third of the DRI all meals that we serve through Age Well need to meet the older Americans act guidelines for nutrition that is including a good source of protein, carbohydrate of course. We look for whole grains as often as possible, we focus on fruits and vegetables at least a cup and a half of fruits and vegetables at every meal. We focus on vitamin A, vitamin C, and a good calcium source so this is a well-rounded meal whether it’s a sit-down meal at a congregate site or a home delivered meal through Meals on Wheels. We partner with many different community partners, such as senior centers, churches, different schools, even to sit down and have sit-down meals or sometimes we have grab-and-go meals or curbside pick-up those are meals that again similar to the sit-down but they’re carefully packaged so that an individual can drive by, put the meal into the back of their car or have someone, a volunteer, do that and drive away and have a nutritious meal. We provide education, nutrition education, health promotion, education vaccination information depending on what the needs are in the community at the time with those meals. We also have a registered dietitian who works with us on a regular basis to provide nutrition education at the meal sites when possible or we’ve recorded some videos to have access to it times when people can’t get out we also have one-on-one counseling that is available to those clients that might need a little additional education or really customized information about their chronic illness and how diet can help them manage it. People with diabetes, people trying to lose weight, heal a wound, many different topics that we can cover. We also have partnerships with restaurants, sit down meals in some cases and then other restaurants participate in our restaurant ticket program. That’s a program where an individual can donate for the meal, receive a voucher or a ticket take that ticket to the nearby restaurant that’s on our website and it’ll be listed on a calendar of those restaurants that participate and depending on the day or the time that they’ve denoted as the Age Well time, the individual can go in receive a meal. It meets those older Americans act guidelines for nutrition, they then pay for their meal with the ticket we Age Well reimburses the restaurant for those meals at the end of the month. Back to the registered dietitian she is available to do one-on-one counseling in people’s homes when appropriate or virtually via the phone or a zoom type platform where that person can provide one-on-one information and assistance to the individual who needs the counseling or possibly a family member or caregiver to help make sure that that individual has the information they need to manage their chronic health issues. We have been very fortunate to be able to expand our offerings over the last few years and many of you have heard of the Tai Chi programming that we offer. Tai Chi for balance it is a falls prevention program and we work with over 30 active volunteers who have been trained by Tai Chi Vermont to provide a basic level and then an intermediate level Tai Chi practice for individuals we know that by practicing one hour a week over a period of 10 to 14 weeks improves strength, balance and flexibility. We know that Tai Chi is an excellent falls prevention program. We offer nutrition and physical activity program called Eat Smart, Move More Weigh Less, that is a nutrition program that is focused on helping people make behavioral changes that would affect a more healthy diet or a more healthy intake and at the same time encourage individuals to become more physically active. It’s an evidence-based program that will help people, perhaps reduce their blood pressure levels, produce a slight to moderate amount of weight loss, and help people feel better about their overall health. A matter of balance is another falls prevention program that is available to our participants that is online and in person and that is a basically a support group that’s available to individuals who for some reason, maybe they’ve previously had a fall or they’re recovering from surgery or they’re just feeling weak or fragile because of health issues and they’re so afraid to participate and get out of their homes and apartments and participate in the community or go for a walk because they’re fearful of falling. This is an opportunity again for volunteers to work with our program to train and learn how to run these groups out into the community in senior housing situations or senior centers or perhaps online to support individuals over the age of 60 and help them overcome that fear of falling. Let’s talk about Meals on Wheels. Safety checks are super important. When a volunteer delivers a meal to an individual, sometimes that’s the only person that person has had contact with in a day so when you knock on the door say hello, drop the meal, you’re actually seeing that person for the first time and able to do a quick safety check which allows for you, maybe you notice that their mail didn’t get picked up or their driveway wasn’t shoveled or possibly when they opened the door they were all bundled up and and and they were cold and they perhaps didn’t have heat on in their apartment. Maybe they don’t answer the door right away. In all those instances, we would ask that you would take the phone number that’s on the route sheet and call Age Well. We have staff in nutrition support who will help identify the issue, contact that individual and make sure they’re safe and in some cases, escalate to a higher level to make sure that that individual is okay.

I’ve been receiving Meals on Wheels for about a year and it’s great food and it’s tailored. I’m diabetic, so I need a lot of protein in the beginning of the day.

One thing that we’ve noticed, my doctor and I, is that the glucose level has come down. I think there’s also some anxiety that isn’t there anymore because you know, you’re going to have at least something. When I was on my own, there were some days where I would just literally forget to have lunch, and some of that was because I had to make it.

So with it there, I got to have lunch. So I’m more consistent. You know, it makes a big difference. And boy, the people that deliver are always wonderful. There have been a few times when I have been sound asleep and they haven’t been able to raise me. So they call later on in the morning just to make sure I’m okay.

At one fellow who’s here frequently, one day he looked up at a sign I have on the door that says, Beware the guard dog Golden Retrievers. And he said, What are they going to do, lick me to death? We have a little interchange like that every day.

So it’s not just bringing the meals. We’re bringing socialization, we’re bringing a warm smile. We’re bringing another person saying, Hi, how are you today? And that’s also important for all of us to be able to do that. Makes me feel that I’m doing such a big service for very little effort on my part.

“Your meals are very good. I enjoy them very much. They have helped me a lot with recovery from my fall. I appreciate it.”

– Brenda

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FAQ’s

Do you have a question about Meals on Wheels that wasn’t answered here? Contact the Helpline with any additional questions!

Meals on Wheels eligibility is granted to anyone who is 60 years of age or older, and is unable to obtain or prepare meals on a temporary or permanent basis due to a physical, mental or cognitive condition that requires assistance to leave home.

Also eligible are the spouse, regardless of age, of eligible individuals receiving Meals on Wheels; and individuals under 60 years of age with a disability, who resides with an eligible individual receiving Meals on Wheels.

The suggested donation is $5 per meal. No one is turned away from their inability to pay, and there is no income eligibility threshold for Meals on Wheels.

To register for the Meals on Wheels program, please call the Helpline at 1-800-642-5119.

Volunteers deliver meals Monday through Friday between 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Yes! You must be home when your meal is delivered. Due to health and safety regulations, we cannot leave meals outside or in coolers. Our volunteer drivers enjoy their visits with you and donate their time and mileage to bring meals.

If you are not going to be home, please be mindful of their generosity, the meal costs, and call Age Well to cancel your meal, providing at least 24-hours notice. If you do not provide notice, we will reach out to your emergency contact and local hospitals to ensure that you are safe.

Meals will be freshly prepared daily and then chilled, not frozen. This will provide you the flexibility to reheat or freeze meals and eat them at a time that best suits you.

In the microwave

Peel back plastic cover on all four corners slightly to allow steam to escape. If bread is included in one of the meal sections, remove it prior to microwaving. Place the meal tray in the microwave and cook it on high for 2-3 minutes. If the contents are not to desired temperature, cook for an additional minute.

In the oven

Preheat over to 300 degrees. Peel back plastic cover on all four corners slightly to allow steam to escape. Place the meal tray on a cookie sheet to protect it from direct heat. Put in over for 30-40 minutes or until warm.

Lindley Food Services based in Rutland will prepare the meals for Age Well’s entire four county region (Addison, Chittenden, Grad Isle and Franklin County). Lindley has been a vendor for Age Well’s Addison County meal programs for over two decades.

Age Well is now able to offer: regular meals, heart healthy meals, diabetic friendly meals, renal friendly meals, lactose free, vegetarian (lacto-ovo), gluten free meals and mechanical soft or pureed meals in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties. Should you need a modified meal, please contact the Helpline.

Meals on Wheels menus are updated every month. Menu is subject to change. Daily meals include milk and dessert.

Happiness knocks when you volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels. Volunteer drivers are needed in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties.

Contact Us

Do you have questions about Meals on Wheels, or need to cancel an upcoming meal? Call the Helpline at 1-800-642-5119 and speak to one of our friendly, professional team members.