Our Year in Review | Meals on Wheels People

Our Year in Review


By Suzanne Washington, Chief Executive Officer

The past year has been challenging for individuals struggling to get by. The conclusion of pandemic-related food initiatives, such as enhanced SNAP benefits for the elderly, combined with inflation, escalating food prices, and housing instability, have particularly impacted older residents in the Portland-Vancouver metro area.

However, as the demand has grown, Meals on Wheels People has also stepped up its efforts, using its well-established capabilities to adapt quickly and ensure the continued delivery of nutritious meals to our neighbors. We are still producing between 1,200 and 1,500 more meals each day than we did before the pandemic. With the help of our volunteers, we made over 32,000 Friendly Chats calls. We launched the innovative Diners Club program and started offering Senior Planet technology workshops.

The stories of impact that we have collected are profound. From seniors who have regained strength and independence to families who find peace in knowing their loved ones are cared for, your support has been life-changing.

Take Mary. Mary was a nurse for 40 years. She understands the importance of good nutrition. But over the past year, it became harder for Mary to afford nutritious, high-quality food. “Inflation caused a great change in my life,” she says. After six months of eating mostly Cheerios and tuna fish, a friend helped Mary sign up for meal delivery through Meals on Wheels People – and Mary says it saved her life: “I’m alive because of what you guys do. I probably was going to starve to death. Now, I’ve got actual real food to eat every day.”

These stories are not just ours; they are yours as well, a reflection of your kindness and dedication to our mission.

We couldn’t accomplish any of this without the support of our volunteers. This past year, more than 1,750 volunteers gave 87,147 hours of their time to our mission. Corporate groups like Intel encourage their employees to volunteer. And individual volunteers like Dave often make long-lasting commitment to Meals on Wheels People, volunteering for nearly 20 years. Uniquely qualified to deliver meals, he began in 2005 after he retired from a 44-year career delivering mail. Initially, Dave signed up to deliver one day a week. But he loved it so much, that soon, he was volunteering every day. “Just like carrying mail, you get attached to these people,” says the 81-year-old. “It’s more than being customers. They’re like family.”

As we look to the future, we are excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead: One in 4 Americans is 60+ with 12,000 more turning 60 every day, and half live alone and lack the income to pay for basic needs. During 2021, we purchased a building on 82nd Avenue in the Jade District to address the growing need in our community. Once renovations are complete in late 2025, this additional space will allow us to enhance our meal production capabilities, deepen our social programming, strengthen our community partnerships, better serve communities living in east Portland, and respond quickly and effectively during man-made or natural disasters. This expansion is a significant step in our ability to serve our participants, one that will propel us toward our vision of no senior going hungry or experiencing social isolation.

I hope you will read the 2023 Annual Report in full. Thank you for your continued dedication, generosity, and kindness as we look toward the future, continuing to learn and grow.

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