Nationally more than 1.3 million people over the age of 65 are malnourished. There is no one solution to reducing malnutrition among older people. Valuable activities include meals on wheels, lunch clubs or other forms of shared meals, improving care and hospital provision, and influencing people’s eating habits.
Meals on wheels can provide a lifeline to people struggling to feed themselves in their own homes. Examples from around the UK and internationally demonstrate how the value of the meals can be extended well beyond the meal itself. In particular, there is an opportunity to use food provision to link isolated adults to other services and avert escalating health and social care costs through early intervention.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, meals delivery to older people is a vital part of maintaining people's access to nutritious food and their wider wellbeing. There are a miriad of opportunities to deliver meals successfully during the crisis.
Examples of meals on wheels services emerging during the Covid-19 outbreak
Many established meals on wheels services are expanding their reach during Covid-19. There are also a wide range of services which have emerged during the pandemic, involving a many different organisations from the public, private and community sector. We couldn't possibly list all of these; below we list a range of exemplary projects.
- School caterers put their meals on wheels, Sustain (includes case studies from Brighton Enfield, Lancaster & Morecombe and Washingborough)
- Webinar recording: School caterers put their meals on wheels, Sustain, May 2020
- The Bevy Community Pub meals on wheels, Brighton
- Crop Drop meals preparation, Haringey, London
- Food and Friendship Luncheon Club meals delivery (short film), Hove
- Made in Hackney's advice on setting up a food service during Covid-19 (including a short film)
- NR5, Society Alice and TLC meals delivery, Norwich
- Oxford Mutual Aid (in partnership with Dementia Oxfordshire, the local Age UK and Oxford University)
- FoodWorks meals subscription, Sheffield
- Food Hall frozen meals, Sheffield
- The Umbrella Cafe CIC, Whistable, Kent
Other examples and resources
- Something to be proud of: Taking an enterprising approach to meals on wheels (Simon Shaw CF, 2020)
- Webinar recording: Food and Enterprise: Meals on wheels services and community food businesses from around the globe (Simon Shaw and Joanna Heywood, 2020)
- The Role of Food in Building Connections and Relationships (Ageing Better, National Lottery Community Fund)
- Food Train Meal Makers
- Meals on wheels good practice case studies (Sustain and partners, 2018)
- Webinar recording: Older people’s access to food and meals on wheels (Food Power, 2018)
- Short film: Fair Meals Direct: Meals on Wheels Carlisle (Fair Food Carlisle, 2014)
Advice on improving nutrition among older people
Research and statistics
- Beyond the Food Bank: Meals on wheels in London (Sustain, 2019)
- Meals on wheels survey 2018 (APSE and NACC, 2018)
- Improving food shopping for older people (University of Hertfordshire, 2018)
- Short film: Food in Later Life (University of Hertfordshire, 2018)
- Food in Later Life Game (University of Hertfordshire, 2018)
- Helping older people maintain a healthy diet: A review of what works (Public Health England, 2017)
- Hidden hunger and malnutrition in the elderly (Feeding Britain, 2017)
- The cost of malnutrition in the UK and potential cost savings from nutritional interventions (Elio M. on behalf of the Malnutrition Action Group of BAPEN and the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, 2015)
- Personalisation, Nutrition and the Role of Community Meals (International Longevity Centre UK, 2010)
Food Poverty: Millions of people in the UK struggle to get enough to eat. We’re working to change that through people-powered projects and campaigns that tackle the root causes of food poverty and ensure everyone has dignified access to healthy, affordable food.