Volunteers are the backbone of Meals on Wheels programs across the country. Not only do they prepare and deliver meals to homebound seniors in their local communities, they also provide the seniors with companionship and a warm, friendly smile when they arrive at the door.
There are numerous volunteer opportunities at Meals on Wheels programs, though specific openings will vary from one location to another. People of varied interests and abilities can help – whether they want to be hands-on or behind the scenes. Timing is also flexible, but most programs deliver meals before noon.
Meals on Wheels programs across the country identified these common volunteer positions. Not all opportunities are available at every organization – and many local programs have additional, unique volunteer needs.
Drivers and Runners
Drivers pick up meals at a central location and then follow a specific route, making several stops along the way to deliver to Meals on Wheels recipients. Sometimes a driver works with a volunteer “runner,” who takes the meal from the car to the door of a senior's home.
All Meals on Wheels programs have events and fundraisers that require extra help – including planning and organizing, publicity, onsite setup and much more. Ask your local program if there are upcoming events that you can help with.
Most people don't realize that all Meals on Wheels programs have an administrative side – an office that organizes meal preparation, delivery and communication with clients. Many programs use volunteers to provide administrative and clerical support to keep the offices running.
Meal Preparation and Packaging
At many programs, volunteers assist in the kitchen, preparing meals or packing them for delivery.
Many programs have volunteers who make regular phone calls to seniors to check up on them. This is often a great opportunity for volunteers looking to participate from their own homes on a flexible schedule.
Senior Center Aides
Some Meals on Wheels programs provide congregate meals in addition to home delivered meals – serving meals at a central location, where seniors can come to eat together. For Meals on Wheels programs that are housed within senior centers, there are many opportunities available for those interested in helping with activities, meal services and other tasks.