Benevilla today announced the findings from a research study that Meals on Wheels America commissioned Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research to conduct with funding from AARP Foundation. The release of this groundbreaking study commemorates the start of the 13th March for Meals – a nationwide celebration of local Meals on Wheels programs throughout the month of March.
Meals on Wheels America contracted Dr. Kali Thomas, PhD from Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research to design and execute the 15-week pilot study involving more than 600 senior participants to compare the experience and health outcomes realized by older adults who receive three different levels of service: daily traditional meal delivery, once-weekly frozen meal delivery and individuals on a waiting list for meals.
“As a former Meals on Wheels volunteer and the granddaughter of a recipient, I have witnessed firsthand the valuable benefits this service provides to those fortunate enough to receive it,” said Kali Thomas, PhD, Principal Investigator, Brown University. “We structured this study as a randomized control, blinded study, and what we found in the data is significant evidence that seniors derive several benefits beyond nutrition alone from this service.”
Key findings include:
- Those receiving and/or requesting Meals on Wheels services are significantly more vulnerable compared to a nationally representative sample of aging Americans.
- Those who received daily-delivered meals experienced the greatest improvements in health and quality of life indicators over the study period compared to the other two groups (individuals who received frozen, weekly-delivered meals and the control group).
- Those receiving daily-delivered meals reported greater benefits from their home-delivered meal experience compared to the group receiving frozen meals.
- Those who lived alone and received daily-delivered meals were more likely to report decreases in worry about being able to remain in home and improvements in feelings of isolation and loneliness over the study period, compared to the other two groups.
“The Meals on Wheels network faces tough choices forced by limited funding, rising costs, unprecedented demand and need, and increasing for-profit competition,” said Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Thanks to Brown University and AARP Foundation, we have the research-backed evidence that confirms what we’ve all known for decades anecdotally through personal experience: that Meals on Wheels does in fact deliver so much more than just a meal.”
For more information, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/MTAM.
“Benevilla has been providing our Home Delivered Meals on Wheels to West Valley residents for several years. As this study shows, it can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Not just the meal, but also the valuable social interaction,” said Michelle Dionisio, president and CEO of Benevilla. “Often our volunteer is the only person that has visited the client that day or that week. We’ve had incidents where the volunteer has discovered a client in distress, and that person would have not received prompt medical attention if not for the Home Delivered Meals on Wheels program. So many of Benevilla’s free services come to the attention of those in need through their interaction with our meal program.”
Throughout the month-long March for Meals celebration, Benevilla will join programs from virtually every community across the country as it works to bolster the vital services it provides to West Valley seniors. This valuable research will support Benevilla in making the case for much-needed funding and resources, whether to elected officials, private funders and foundations, or donors. To learn more about March for Meals, visit www.marchformeals.com.
Started by the community and for the community in 1981, Benevilla is a not-for-profit human services agency dedicated to enhancing the lives of West Valley residents by providing care services for older adults, intellectually disabled adults, children, and families. For more information on services and volunteer opportunities, call 623-584-4999 or visit www.benevilla.org.
About Meals on Wheels America (Formerly Meals On Wheels Association of America)
Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.