Eastside Meals on Wheels Inc. was started in the parking lot of Trinity United Methodist Church in July of 1973. The program was incorporated as Northeast Dinner Bell, Inc. on March 19, 1974. The volunteers removed the heated meals from a delivery vehicle to their cars and delivered them to older adults in Northeast Minneapolis and St. Anthony Village. As the program grew, the organization rented office space from Trinity church, where they remained for thirty-eight years.
In December 2011, changes in the general economic climate and the housing market around the University of Minnesota, forced Southeast Meals on Wheels, another nearly 40 year-old program, to close. Only with the continued help from the Southeast Meals on Wheels volunteers, could Northeast Dinner Bell stretch far enough to cover the resulting chasm. Soon after, in May 2012, the program temporarily moved into Catholic Eldercare at 817 Main Street NE and changed their name to Eastside Meals on Wheels, Inc. to better represent their scope, which now included Southeast Minneapolis. Two years later in 2014, they moved into rental space at Waite Park Wesleyan Church in NE Minneapolis at 1510 33rd Avenue NE where they remain housed today.
Our nonprofit meal delivery service provides meals to people who are unable to shop and prepare adequate meals for themselves on a regular basis. Some recipients are elderly while some are mentally or physically challenged. For some recipients we become a temporary service as they recuperate from an injury or a hospital stay. For some others it will probably be their source of nutrition as long as they remain in their homes.
Our service enables the elderly to maintain their autonomy and their independent living status. A typical meal recipient is in their 80s, widowed and living in their own home. Our daily visit provides security to their families who know that the volunteer driver will be checking in on their loved one each day and will report anything unusual or amiss. Unfortunately sometimes the meal delivery driver is the only human that the recipient will see all day.
Originally the program was a faith-based operation and the routes were staffed with volunteer drivers recruited by church coordinators. Today nearly 2/3 of the volunteer hours are filled by volunteers recruited from area businesses, community based civic groups, and individual volunteers.
Meals on Wheels programs are funded from a variety of sources. In many cases Medical Assistance will pay for the meals through an Alternative Care or Elderly Waiver. In our program, more than half of our meal recipients donate money for their meals. Others who meet certain criteria are subsidized by local and federal government. However the income from these sources does not nearly cover the expenses of our program. We rely mainly on contributions from area businesses, churches, social service groups, memorials, fund raising activities and generous individuals.