Meals on Wheels has a long history of changing lives.

The service helps people all around New Zealand who are living at home by providing them with a warm meal every day. But more than just a carrier of hot meals, it’s friendship and independence to those most vulnerable and in need.

The visit of volunteers almost every day of the week makes a world of difference to Betty and thousands of people like her who await the much-needed moment of connection. Betty says, “it can be quite lonely during the day. I’ve lost a lot of friends in the last two years, so I don’t see a lot of people. The volunteers are good people – they’re of great help.”

These visits become even more of a lifeline when a disaster hits.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Aotearoa and around the world has reminded us that a disaster or crisis can change a person’s life in an instant. Changing almost every part of our daily lives, this life-threatening disease has affected us all in previously unimaginable ways. With its impact still unfolding globally, people in need are relying on the support of others more than ever.

Created in 1951 as a way to feed people in need during a gas, coal and electricity shortage, Meals on Wheels has played an essential role in our nation’s history. It’s always there when disaster strikes. And even in lockdown, our meals kept coming.

As most businesses closed up shop for the past few months, we were able to continue caring for people through this essential service, providing a welcomed meal and the ability to say hello to someone – even if it might be from a distance.   

“It’s so nice to have the volunteer come over – they are very friendly people. That’s what we need, being friendly to one another,” says Muriel, a long-time recipient of Meals on Wheels.

For volunteer drivers, this connection is a key part of the job. “It’s more than just delivering a meal; it’s checking up on people. When you deliver the meals, you also check on people and make sure things are going well for them. Some people I meet may not see anyone else all day,” explains Kevin.