Meals on Wheels of Fredericton Inc. History
Meals on Wheels is a program designed to deliver hot, ready to eat, nutritionally balanced meals to those who are unable to prepare adequate meals for themselves. It is a community minded, volunteer based, non-profit service.
Meals on Wheels started in Canada in 1965. It began in Fredericton in 1967. During that year, Mrs. Carolyn Mossman’s unit of the United Church Women at St. Paul’s Church pioneered a project in which members of the unit prepared meals in their own homes for delivery to persons recommended by the Victorian Order of Nurses.
in 1968, the meals were prepared in St. Paul’s United Church kitchen by members of the United Church Women, and a few ladies from other churches. Desserts were provided by other volunteers who couldn’t come to the kitchen or drive. In that year, 390 meals were provided at a cost of 38.6 cents a meal. Those able to pay were charged 25 cents per meal.
In 1969, 788 meals were delivered to an average of twelve persons twice a week. During July and August, meals were prepared in the homes of volunteers and delivered to the recipients. In 1970, over 1000 hot meals were served.
For several years, Mary Wilson of St. Dunstan’s Church served as chief cook and assisted in keeping the Meals on Wheels service on track. During all these years, many men were involved as drivers.
As the years passed, there was a need for an expansion of this service. In 1978, St. Paul’s Church handed over their responsibility for Meals on Wheels to a volunteer Board of Directors, so that the service could be increased to five days per week.
In 1978 funds were provided to Meals on Wheels by the Department of Social Services, to assist in expansion in preparation for the Community Based Service for Seniors program in the Fredericton area. Mrs. Joyce Collins was the driving force for the expansion, and was the first President of the Board of Management. Meals on Wheels was incorporated in this year.
In 1979, Sharon Ayer was hired as part-time Coordinator. She was succeeded by Joyce Wood in the Spring of 1980. In 1980 the organization’s office moved to the Victoria Health Center and it remains there until this day. In 1983, the coordinator’s work week increased to 35 hours. At this time, approximately 275 meals were being delivered each week from four preparation depots which were – The Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital, the York Manor Nursing Home, Joe’s Diner and the Country Host Restaurant.
In 1985 the job of Coordinator became full time and part-time Assistant Coordinator, Debbie was hired for ten hours a week, with duties on the north side of the river, and to take the place of the Coordinator when the latter was absent. At this time, approximately 400 meals per week were being delivered. The Cotton Cafe in Marysville replaced Joe’s diner as a food depot for the service.Debbie remains with the organization as the Meals on Wheels Coordinator to this day.
In 2000 Barb Brown was hired as the Office Administrator and bookkeeper. Meals were sent out 5 days a week and then expanded to 7 days a week in 2002. The staff began weekend on-call procedures at this point.
Wheels to Meals, a program which brings seniors out to lunch once a week from September to June, was developed in 2000. Entertainment is provided by local performers and volunteers provide transportation to those who require it. The program started on the North side at St. Mary’s Anglican Church and continues to run.
In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Meals on Wheels delivered 41,602 meals to about 300 clients. More than 100 volunteers deliver routinely to accomplish the 7 day a week, 365 day per year program. The organization now employs an Executive Director, Program Coordinator, an Office Administrator, and a Program and Office Support Assistant. We also employ summer students and contract employees to help with new projects when needed.
Compiled by Anna Christie.