New National Survey Finds Unprecedented Demand for Meals on Wheels Amid Pandemic

Top Quote Meals on Wheels South Florida Experiences A 394% Increase In Meal Requests As A Growing Number Of Seniors Face The Impact Of COVID-19. End Quote
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL (1888PressRelease) May 20, 2020 - Stay-at-home orders designed to keep high-risk residents safe amid the pandemic have created a rapid increase in the number of seniors who rely on home-delivered meals as their primary source of food. This, coupled with supply chain and work force disruptions, makes delivering large quantities of meals to a growing number of seniors more expensive and challenging for Meals on Wheels South Florida than ever before.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the number of seniors who are food insecure to record levels,” said Mark Adler, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels South Florida. “Thanks to the overwhelming support and generosity of our community partners, since March, we have been able to serve 2,034 seniors with 28,485 meals each week and this number continues to grow.”

    A new survey conducted by Meals on Wheels America finds that nearly all local Meals on Wheels programs are experiencing increased demand since concerns over COVID-19 and social distancing measures began taking hold.

    Nationally, programs reported substantive shifts in their operations in April, compared to the week prior to March 1:

    - 89 percent of programs have seen an increase in meal requests; of those, 79 percent report the number of new requests for meals has at least doubled
    - Programs are serving 56 percent more meals and 22 percent more seniors per week
    - 29 percent of rural programs have increased the number of seniors served by 50 percent or more
    - Waiting lists for meals, which existed before the COVID-19 crisis, have grown by 26 percent
    - Aside from funding, 63 percent of programs report that acquiring safety supplies (gloves, masks, etc.) is the biggest challenge

    “There is no debate that older Americans have borne the brunt of this pandemic, and if we only examine infection, hospitalization and death rates, we vastly underestimate the true impact,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO, Meals on Wheels America. “This survey data offers critical insights into the level of support necessary now and beyond the pandemic, to ensure we meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations.”

    As the spread of the virus continues and discussions over how and when to end stay-at-home orders ensue, Meals on Wheels South Florida expects demand to grow even more.

    “Sheltering at home is keeping seniors safe, but we must also strengthen and protect the support systems that enable them to do that, such as nutrition services and programs that reduce isolation,” said Hollander. “We can’t do one without the other.”

    Visit to learn how to support Meals on Wheels South Florida’s efforts to meet the growing demand for home-delivered meals during this unprecedented time.

    About Meals on Wheels South Florida
    Meals on Wheels South Florida is a private nonprofit organization providing hunger-relief services since 1984. With the dedication of nearly 600 volunteers, Meals on Wheels South Florida delivers nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable South Florida seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. Included in their comprehensive list of programs and services are home meal delivery, community-based dining, meals for companion pets, grocery shopping assistance, nutrition education and emergency meals. For more information, please call 954.731.8770 or visit

    Meals on Wheels South Florida is funded by the Federal Older American’s Act through the State of Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs and the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Broward County and with local Fair Share matching dollars from local municipalities. Additional support from The Jim Moran Foundation, Jewish Federation of Broward, Children’s Services Council of Broward, and The Salah Foundation and Private Donations works to further their mission: to end hunger across all ages with kindness, dignity and compassion.

    About the Survey
    The survey was conducted between April 22-28 among Meals on Wheels America’s Membership, which is representative of the national senior nutrition provider network of 5,000+ individual community-based programs. The survey has a +/- 4% margin of error.

    About Meals on Wheels America
    Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and 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, research, 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

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