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Meals on Wheels West is Celebrating 50 Years of Service!

Meals on Wheels West brings more than meals to its appreciative clients who look forward to greeting the volunteers delivering the food. Pictured are Marianne and her dog, Ginger.

It was enjoyable to sit down with Executive Director Chris Baca to learn all about what Meals on Wheels West (MOWW) provides for our community.

Meals on Wheels West was founded in 1974, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Chris Baca has been heading MOWW for 10 years.

This agency serves meals to all ages and veterans. Clients range from 35 years to 102 years! In the last 10 years, the number of meals served has grown 238%. There was a time where 65,000 meals were served. That number has since grown to 220,000 meals last year. Many new clients were enrolled during the pandemic.

Meals on Wheels West also noticed that their heritage clients (normal clientele) were already used to being isolated. However, the newer clients that signed up during the pandemic weren’t used to this, and began struggling with loneliness and depression.

To help combat this, Meals on Wheels West decided to start a Community Connections program that began calling clients twice a week to check up on them. This has since been reduced to once a week. This program also provides referrals and services, to more than 50 organizations, for clients who need assistance with other pressing issues.

Volunteers also provide a Wellness Check every time they deliver a meal, which allows them to report additional client assistance needs to the staff. Both programs have been able to close the gap of clients who might have otherwise fallen through the cracks, for additional services needed.

During the pandemic, MOWW also worked closely with the California Public County of Health to assist in getting over 90% of their clients and 100% of their staff vaccinated.

Meals on Wheels West also began a Food and Shelter program in 2020 that serves people who are now housed, after being homeless. This program aims to assist in helping get clients food, shelter, and assistance to become integrated back into society.

Some Meals on Wheels West facts to remember:

• It’s a volunteer-driven organization.

• There are 40 routes to deliver a day, which means they need 40 volunteers daily.

• You can volunteer as often as you like, whether it is for a day, a week, or a month. Are all appreciated.

• Most clients get meals for free or at a subsidy. The average donation received is under $2. However, each meal costs over $12. No one is EVER turned away for inability to pay. They do not have a waitlist.

Chris also shared that there is Hidden Hunger, even in the most affluent communities. You will not see these people out in the streets, as most are homebound. Meals on Wheels West locates these clients in need through referrals, by leaving flyers at buildings, and through social media.

This agency definitely lives up to their tagline of Delivering More Than a Meal. Please visit to sign up to volunteer, donate to this agency, and view a full list of programs offered.

By Stacy McClendon

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