How is Meals on Wheels funded?

Meals on Wheels potroast and potatoes

With Congress debating budget bills and the Minnesota Legislature back in session, it’s a good time to provide an update on how Meals on Wheels is funded. Meals on Wheels is only made possible through a unique mix of government funding, support from individual donors and the volunteers that deliver the meals.

Here are the major sources of government funding that help cover the cost of meals for people in need:

Medicaid waiver programs: This is a program administered by the state of Minnesota, which relies on Medicaid funding from the federal government. This is a major source of funding for Meals on Wheels in the Twin Cities which could be severely affected by cuts to Medicaid. Locally, Medicaid waivers cover the full cost of meals for about 50 percent of meal recipients.

Federal funding for senior nutrition: The federal government provides funding for home-delivered meals through Older Americans Act nutrition programs. These funds can be used to help cover meal costs for low-income seniors that don’t qualify for a Medicaid waiver. Locally, Older Americans funding is used to subsidize the cost of meals for about 13 percent of meal recipients.

Other federal funding: Many Meals on Wheels programs throughout the nation, including some locally, rely on Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help operate their programs. These block grants also fund numerous other programs that help seniors who are living in poverty. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can also be used by seniors to help cover the cost of Meals on Wheels.

You can learn more about some of these funding issues from this KARE11 story, which features Sen. Tina Smith delivering Meals on Wheels in South St. Paul.

Meals on Wheels relies on community support, too

In the Twin Cities, donations from individuals as well as client contributions from those who can afford it help ensure meals are available to all who need them. As a nonprofit program, we rely on support from individuals and foundations for the day-to-day operation of our programs.

It’s also important to note that while meal delivery is supported by government programs for individuals that meet certain criteria, Meals on Wheels serves people from all backgrounds and income levels. If you could benefit from freshly-prepared, nutritious meals sign up online or give us a call at 612-623-3363.

Wondering how you can help? Here are four easy ways:

Stay informed: Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to receive regular updates.

Contact your elected officials and let them know that preserving funding for Meals on Wheels is essential to helping seniors age independently. The approximate cost of Meals on Wheels is $6 per day when the average annual cost of living in a nursing home in Minnesota is $90,000. Find out who represents you here.

Volunteer: Each day, more than 400 volunteers are needed to get the meals into recipients’ hands. If you’ve never volunteered before, you can give it a try by riding along with someone who has! Learn more about volunteering.

Donate: Our mission is to help ensure that everyone who needs meals is able to obtain them and the need is always there. Click here to donate.