WEST WARWICK, RI – In honor of “March for Meals,” U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island (MOWRI) to deliver meals to local senior citizens, highlight the critical services the organization provides to homebound Rhode Islanders, and thank volunteers for making a positive difference in their communities.

More than just meal delivery, MOWRI’s trained volunteers provide clients with safety-assuring wellness checks.  Volunteers get to know their clients and are trained to respond if they detect something is amiss. 

Maintaining a healthy volunteer base is always a challenge for any service organizations, and MOWRI is fortunate to have a dedicated group of some 500 annual volunteers, which is key because demand for its programs continues to grow.

In 2024, MOWRI is serving approximately 12 percent more daily meals to homebound Rhode Islanders than five years ago. In 2023, the Home-Delivered Meal Program served more than 363,000 meals to 2,956 homebound clients statewide, including on Block Island.

This afternoon, Senator Reed met with Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island team members and volunteers before visiting the home of Ms. Vivian Raposa, 76, in West Warwick, and her dog, Lulu.  Mike Florczyk, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Rhode Island, joined Senator Reed for today’s visit.

As a long-time MOWRI Home-Delivered Meal Program client, Ms. Raposa has described her regular volunteer delivery drivers, Mel and Joe, as some of her best friends. 

“Meals on Wheels is a critical program run by incredible people and volunteers. They not only deliver food, but they also offer that person-to-person interaction that means so much to people, especially homebound seniors.  I salute all these volunteers who keep our seniors well-connected and well-fed. Visiting Ms. Raposa and Lulu and hearing about what this program means to her was the highlight of my day,” said Senator Reed, who delivered a meal of baked salmon with lemon butter, roasted potatoes, green beans, cracked wheat bread, and fresh tangerines.

Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island is a critical link in the state’s network of senior nutrition programs, both congregate and home-delivered.  The program’s meals are delivered through 21 meal dispatch sites around the state.  Meals on Wheels largely relies on federal sources of funding and local efforts to deliver food to homebound seniors in need to help them remain healthy and safe living in their own homes. In 2023, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island served 381,049 nutritious meals to  3,500 older adults across the state.

A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed has been recognized as a Congressional champion of the Meals on Wheels program and has led efforts to secure funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs, which assists Meals on Wheels with serving millions of Americans across the nation.

Founded in 1969, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island is the only non-profit home-delivered meal program of its kind in the state.  In order to qualify for Meals on Wheels services, clients must be over the age of 60, homebound, no longer driving, unable to prepare food themselves and without a qualified caregiver who prepares meals. About 80 percent of Meals on Wheels clients nationwide are classified as “low-income or extremely-low-income,” according to an internal study by Meals on Wheels America.

To learn more about volunteering or making a donation to MOWRI visit: https://www.rimeals.org/