Meals on Wheels Service
Meals On Wheels Meal Delivery Service
218 Branches Countrywide
Including Home Branches & Service Center Branches
Over 29 Million Meals Served Per Annum
When frailty and poverty deny us the basic privilege of balanced nutrition, the Meals on Wheels For The Aged service makes a whole world of difference. Hundreds of voluntary helpers provide personal contact and deliver nourishing meals to the homes of struggling Senior Citizens throughout the country.

Please see the appreciatory notes below:

Appreciatory Notes

"My husband and I are both 80. We are very grateful for the food and the special attention that we receive. Thank you."
Mrs C. C.

"The food is excellent quality, beautifully cooked, and very nutritious. Your voluntary helpers are wonderfully kind, caring and friendly. Thank you to all."
Mr H. M. A

"The service is very good and the food is very good. It is really a God-send for us elderly."
Mrs R. B.

"Heaven only knows what we would do if there were no Meals on Wheels service. Thank you so much."
Mrs H.K.

"The food is good quality, nicely prepared and very enjoyable. I am very grateful for this service of mercy."
Mrs V. M.

"This is a wonderful service to the aged. God bless you all."
Mr E. L

"Excellent loving service. I am very grateful for the work you do and more than amazed at your kindness."
MR C. L.

"I find the service excellent. The ladies are very helpful and always have a cheery word and a smile."
Mrs H. V.

"I enjoy every meal. The food is very nice. Meals on Wheels is wonderful. Thank you for all your love and for all the hard work."
Mr J. M

"The food is very nourishing and very healthy. I am most grateful for this outstanding service."
Mrs W.H.

The line of more than 400 people, waiting patiently in the sun, snakes out of the front door of the little church hall and extends right round the corner and to the road. It will be a long time before everyone gets to the front of the queue. But these are not voters, waiting for a once-every-five-years’ chance to cast their ballot, these are people waiting for their daily plate of food.

20% of South Africa’s population goes to bed hungry every night – that’s almost one million people suffering hunger every day. Meals on Wheels South Africa feeds ten million people a year, but this is just a fraction of the people who desperately need good nutrition.

Meals on Wheels is well-known worldwide. The organization was established shortly after World War 2 in England, to feed elderly people whose support structures had been devastated by the war. There are now Meals on Wheels organizations in every country on earth, with South Africa no exception. Meals on Wheels SA was launched in East London in 1964, and has maintained a proud tradition of caring for the elderly. Every day volunteers at over 210 Meals on Wheels branches countrywide cook and serve a nourishing hot meal. These are either delivered to homes and hospices, or served in a central dining hall, combining a square meal with a social get-together.

But South Africa’s number of social challenges means that Meals on Wheels SA cannot only cater for the old and infirm. There are millions of people who cannot fend for themselves. Children going to school on empty stomachs, old people going without food in order to stretch their pension to feed their grandchildren, HIV sufferers too weak to eat properly. With social dislocation on such a large scale, Meals on Wheels has expanded its operation to include food security in general to anyone in need.

The core business of cooking and delivering meals to the old and infirm still goes on. Pietermaritzburg Meals on Wheels delivers almost entirely to the urban elderly: couples incapacitated through illness or bereavement, elderly people abandoned by their families. In order to give them quality of life and some respite from care and loneliness, Meals on Wheels creates a vital network of support and company.

But in townships and rural areas Meals on Wheels runs soup kitchens and feeding schemes. The main problem is that – as food prices rise and service delivery deteriorates – demand is massively outstripping supply. It is difficult to imagine the kind of choices faced by hungry people. A Meals on Wheels soup kitchen can feed school-children their only meal of the day – but children are then forced to bunk school in order to eat. Grandparents might have to walk several kilometers over appalling roads to get a square meal. HIV sufferers are delivered to Meals on Wheels centers in wheelbarrows.

Venues are also a problem. Sometimes cooking is done in makeshift kitchens on street corners or under trees. An entire center can be crammed into someone’s home, with volunteers spilling over into bedrooms and out into the street. Because of the lack of resources in rural areas and townships, any available space is pressed into service and any available means of obtaining and cooking food has to be used.

There are some extraordinary examples of resourcefulness and imagination. At one rural branch, the manager’s husband takes a donkey cart out into the veld once a week to gather firewood for the week’s cooking. In the Pietermaritzburg branch, volunteer delivery-man Dan Branston is 86 years old and still delivering hot cooked meals to people younger than himself! In Imbali township, there is nowhere to store donated food or equipment, so branch manager Lily Ncalane has to take everything home with her every night, after cooking and serving two meals a day to 120 people. In Edendale, the branch is facing possible eviction as the operation has become too big for the church hall where it is currently housed. Because of the large numbers of children they serve, they would love to be able to provide toys and books for the kiddies. The Georgedale branch (Hammarsdale) has to deliver meals to more than 300 people every day at the local clinic, using taxis or bicycles.

Despite the overwhelming demand and constant challenges, the stall and volunteers at Meals on Wheels remain positive and cheerful.

“It’s a calling,” says Sam Davies of the Pietermaritzburg branch. “We have dedicated helpers who are committed and reliable. This is a very important service we offer – using our 21-year-old Mazda! – and the rewards are great.”

“Oh, we would love some help!” says Mrs Hadebe of Georgedale. “We have to cook the food and deliver it to the clinic, there are more than 300 people waiting for food but we have no transport so we have to pay for taxis to deliver the meals.”

In Imbali, at a crèche feeding 45 children, Mrs Ncalana believes that the Lord will provide.

“We always need more food,” she says, “but otherwise we are happy.”

Mrs Ndlovu of Edendale is simply worried about the size of the premises.

“We feed 400 people now and more people come. We are running out of space.”

Meals on Wheels South Africa is not just about cooking and delivering meals. The cooked meal is often used as the attraction for people to come to self-help schemes and employment projects. Elderly people are encouraged to come to a central dining room for companionship. Many branches run their own vegetable gardens, have sewing or craft projects, teach basic literacy. Some serve crèches or day care centers.

Most of us take a good square meal for granted. But for many, hunger is a daily fact of life. Meals on Wheels is helping with good nutrition and empowerment, and helping to put the issue of food security on the table.