Meals on Wheels For The Aged is a multi-faceted welfare service aimed at helping the elderly of our country to live out their sunset years in dignity and relative comfort. The service includes Old-Age Homes, Frail-Care Centers, Service Centers For Senior Citizens, and the well known Meals on Wheels For The Aged meal delivery service.
All of these services function under the umbrella of Meals on Wheels Community Services, a non-profit organization that operates under the government registration number ADRA SA (SAU) 002-706 NPO.
The Meals on Wheels service utilizes voluntary helpers who prepare and deliver nourishing meals to the disadvantaged elderly in the comfort of their own homes. As a rule, the service enables Senior Citizens to remain in the community for far longer than would otherwise be the case. We like to believe that the service also enables Senior Citizens to enjoy better health for far longer than would otherwise be the case.
Senior Citizens from all walks of life benefit from the Meals on Wheels For The Aged service, and people from all walks of life make up the voluntary teams. (At some of the larger branches it has now become necessary to employ staff to assist in the preparation of the meals.)
The meals are usually prepared in specially equipped Meals on Wheels kitchens and are then delivered by way of a special delivery vehicle that is manned by a driver and a "hopper." "Hoppers" not only present the meals to the Senior Citizens, but they also lend an ear to the lonely, offer guidance and advice wherever this is needed, and refer Senior Citizens to various other services that can make their retirement years more pleasant and more meaningful.
Dignity is a sweet fruit that Senior Citizens thrive on, and it is a sweet fruit that we who see to the needs of the aged are always trying to preserve.
To many "old friends," the acceptance of any kind of help is often considered as something undesirable - something undignified - an indication that they have failed in life. To save Senior Citizens from this "indignity" our branches sometimes make a voluntary token charge for the meals that are delivered. This helps the recipient to feel that he or she has paid for the meal - even if the meal does cost far more than the amount that is tendered - which is usually about two to five Rand. (We have found that many elderly folk still value the Rand as they would have valued it twenty years ago.)
It is also to preserve the dignity of those you sponsor that we do not disclose their names and whereabouts and that we choose not to include their photographs in our appeals, brochures or websites.
It is nevertheless our goal to develop a meaningful relationship between you and the one you sponsor - even if it is somewhat of an arm's-length relationship. This is one reason why we encourage our sponsors to make use of our convenient monthly meal sponsorship option - so that you can enjoy the thought that you are sponsoring meals for a real person, and not just making a donation to another "faceless" charity.
At the present time (2000) there are 437 Meals on Wheels branches in operation throughout South Africa - these include traditional MOW services, old-age homes, service centers, frail care centers, soup kitchens, feeding schemes and crèches. The MOW service is run mostly by voluntary helpers who give of their precious free time to prepare, deliver and serve almost two million meals per annum to the struggling elderly in South Africa.
This tremendous achievement has been made possible only through generous public support for which we are most grateful.