Aging in Place: Meals on Wheels 50th Anniversary

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2020 marks Meals on Wheels People’s 50th anniversary year for continuous service to the metro area senior community. Our Tualatin MOWP program has been at the Juanita Pohl Center for over 40 years. The following is an interview with the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, commemorating and acknowledging this anniversary.

How Did This Business Get Started?

Meals on Wheels People, originally called Loaves and Fishes, was founded in 1969 in Portland by three caring ladies who saw a need in the community that was not being met. They gathered in the basement of the Lincoln Street Methodist Church in February 1970 to serve a hot lunch to a dozen seniors and then delivered 14 meals on paper plates wrapped in newspaper to home bound seniors. 

Now, MOWP meals are available to anyone over the age of 60. While each meal costs $7.39, seniors are only asked to donate what, if any amount, they can afford. No senior is ever turned away or denied a meal. 

What Problem Does Your Product Or Service Solve?

MOWP fulfills the needs of seniors in the community. Today, there are 24 MOWP dining centers in Multnomah, Washington and Clark County and they prepare and deliver more than 1.3 million meals annually for center dining and home delivery. Since the COVID-19 Pandemic started, all the centers are closed but home delivery still continues. Daily meal production has increased from 5,000 meals a day to 8,000 meals daily. Deliveries are made once a week and each delivery contains seven days of a nutritious meal, beverage and dessert/fruit. The volunteer driver with the friendly smile delivering a hot meal is often the only person some of our homebound seniors will see on an average day. Over 600 volunteers log in 2,000+ hours each week to support the program.

Before COVID-19 when the Juanita Pohl Center was open, the MOWP dining program served 40-60 meals daily and 40-50 meals were home delivered. There was also an average of 50 volunteers each week either in the kitchen or driving for home delivery.

What Is Your Business Philosophy?

Our vision: No senior will go hungry or experience social isolation.

Our Mission: We enrich the lives of seniors and assist them in maintaining independence by providing nutritious food, human connection and social support. 

Our Values: Integrity, Respect, Inclusion, Creativity, Commitment and Teamwork.

How Does Our Business Give Back To The Community?

We partner with, volunteer and offer support to other community programs for seniors by making sure to inform our clients of the services and resources available in Tualatin, such as the Borland Free Clinic, the School House Pantry, the library, the Juanita Pohl Center to name a few.

If You Could Say One Thing To The People Of Tualatin, What Would It Be?

It would be a huge thank you to the City of Tualatin for over 40 years of support for this program at the Juanita Pohl Center, a huge thank you to the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce and all its members for their support and interest in this program, a huge thank you to the community and all the volunteers who so willingly give of their heart and time to support this program. 

For more information on MOWP or to sign up for a meal, go to www.mowp.org. For information to volunteer, go to www.mowp.volunteerhub.com. For information on the MOWP Virtual 50th Anniversary Gala event, go to MOWP50.org