What started as a small meal delivery service, delivering to just three homes on its first day, has grown into a program that people can count on for so much more than a meal. Edmonton Meals on Wheels has come a long way since 1969; helped a lot of people, but none of that would be possible without a little help from our friends. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look at some of our biggest accomplishments as a community!
April 21, 1969: A group of the Victorian Order of Nurses notice the need for healthy, home- delivered meals to isolated Edmontonians. With the help of community members like you, the first Meals on Wheels meals are delivered here in Edmonton. Three different homes were visited on this inaugural day for a fee of 65 cents each. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Back then, meals were prepared by local hospitals, but, as they are still to this day, delivered by generous volunteers!
January 1, 1982: Meals on Wheels becomes an official non-profit organization with a governing Board of Directors. Within this same year, 51,000 meals are delivered to clients in need. That’s a lot of growth in just 13 years!
July 12, 1988: The ribbon is cut, and volunteers and staff alike move into the current building that we are in today. Built with a commercial kitchen, meals would soon be made for the first time within an official Edmonton Meals on Wheels building. The building is made possible by many generous donors like you.
March 1, 1989: Food is made for the first time in the brand-new Meals on Wheels facility. This is the same building that many volunteers still prepare, package, and pick up meals from today!
1993: The need for different services becomes clear. This year, Meals on Wheels introduced frozen meals to the menu. A convenient way to receive the same great food, this was a great option for many Edmontonians.
January 1, 1995: The last price increase of individual daily meals occurs. To this day, we rely on donations from the community to help keep prices as low as they were back then.
December 31, 1999: Meals on Wheels reached a new record, by preparing, packaging and delivering over 100,000 meals throughout the year. This wouldn't have been possible without the hundreds of volunteers that we relied on to help us reach this milestone!
October 31, 2002: Meal subsidy costs rise by almost $2,000 more per month. Fundraising becomes more important than ever to be able to provide this service to low-income clients. We rely heavily on the generosity of donors like you, to ensure we can serve all Edmontonians who need our help.
Spring 2008: “Pick a Row”, now known as Grow-a-Row, started when someone from the community dropped off an abundance of rhubarb to the office. One thing led to another and community donations of fresh vegetables started rolling in. Now averaging thousands of pounds per season, Grow-a-Row has become a summer staple in the Meals on Wheels kitchen with its ability to add new tastes and lower food costs.
2008: Grocery delivery and pet food delivery programs were added to the mix. The new ‘Grocery Bag’ program meant that homebound Edmontonians could now receive groceries right to their door. The pet food delivery service became available for low-income clients with animals. It was found that many of these clients were sharing food with their four-legged family members. We realized the service was needed and partnered with local company, MPAWS, to provide this program.
2015: Evening deliveries of Grocery Bag items and Chef’s Choice Frozen Meals begin to take place on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. A convenient way to give back on your way home from work, this has become a very popular volunteer shift for those who are not available on weekdays. Additionally, it has helped to lighten the load for daytime volunteers. Talk about a win/win!
June 4, 2018: Chef’s Choice Daily Meals make their debut. This change from hot to chilled meals helped to lock in more flavour and vital nutrients. Not only does it have taste and health benefits, but it allows the kitchen to be able to produce more meals than ever! With a one-time grant from the City of Edmonton, kitchen hours were extended until 7:00PM. This made it possible to prepare more meals than ever before. It also opened up additional volunteer opportunities for those who aren’t able to help out during the day!
January 1, 2019: Meal subsidy rates are reviewed and found to be the highest ever recorded; sitting at about 60% of clients requiring extra help to receive their meals. In our 50th year, we pledge to, with the help of the community, raise $50,000 within the 50 days leading up to Edmonton Meals on Wheels’ 50th anniversary on April 21, 2019. Click here to help!