Meals on Wheels programs across the U.S. trace their roots back to Great Britain when the Women’s Volunteer Service for Civil Defense helped people who lost their homes and ability to cook meals during the World War II blitz. They also brought refreshments to servicemen in canteens, which came to be known as “Meals on Wheels.”
The first American home-delivered meal program began in Philadelphia in January of 1954. In 1965, Congress passed the Older Americans Act and began the federal program of congregate and home-delivered meals. The “Nutrition Program for the Elderly Act” was passed in 1972, authorizing funding for a permanent national nutrition services program for the elderly.
In 1972 a group of volunteers established a meals program for the elderly in Salinas. It became a service of the Volunteer Bureau. The first meals were delivered to the homes of twelve clients.
The program grew and became a separate organization in 1985, when we incorporated as Meals on Wheels of Salinas, Inc., a nonprofit agency. In 1994 we expanded and started delivering meals in the rural areas of the Salinas Valley. In 1998 we changed our name to Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Inc. to reflect our expanded service area.
We estimate over twelve thousand frail seniors in the Salinas Valley have received our nutritious home-delivered meals. During that time, we have never had a waiting list for service. Hundreds of volunteers have delivered meals and served on our Board of Directors. Volunteers have donated their time and vehicles to deliver over four million meals and countless smiles, hugs, and handshakes. Dedicated volunteers have always been the heart and soul of this organization.