In pre-pandemic conditions, reliable access to healthy and nutritious meals was increasingly becoming more prohibitive for Canadians, who faced rising food costs and other barriers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these concerns have only compounded.

Strain on the supply chain has seen costs continue to rise, and has produced scarcity of food resources, including basic ingredients, such as yeast for breadmaking. Moreover, venturing forth to grocery stores poses a greater health risk to older adults in Canada, who are more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. As pandemic conditions persist well into the summer months, Canadians now must also contend with the increased risks of heat stroke and other hazards more likely to occur when cooking in hot and humid summer conditions.

Community Support Connections provides a welcome alternative for those living in Waterloo Region, through their Meals on Wheels service.

“I find the services very beneficial. It improves the quality of life for my husband and myself,” notes one Meals on Wheels customer. Providing homestyle meals prepared by professional Red Seal chefs, each meal provides over 40% of the daily nutritional intake for an adult, delivered right to your door around the lunch hour by friendly volunteer drivers trained to use safe, no-contact delivery protocols.

With a varied, ever-rotating menu, flexible delivery options, and the ability to tailor meals to meet dietary restrictions and needs, the Meals on Wheels service has garnered a broad appeal from those who find grocery shopping and cooking at home inconvenient for a myriad of reasons, through the pandemic and beyond.

“There would be too many ingredients for me to spend on. I don’t think I could buy the meals for one week for that amount of money,” states Ramona, 53, a patron for more than a decade. The adaptive price-point of Meals on Wheels helps keep costs down, ensuring that the service is affordable for everyone.

“It’s hard to make a meal for one person,” another patron of the service writes. “I can have a warm meal. Otherwise, I would just eat sandwiches.”

Current clients also note how much of an asset the service has been for those suffering from chronic pains and have difficulty standing for extended periods of time cooking, or for those recovering from surgeries on their back or hips. Others still note that receiving regular meals consciously prepared for specialized needs, like cardiac- or diabetic-sensitive diets, has made a qualitative impact on their health and wellness. The convenience of reducing the need for grocery shopping and preparing health-conscious meals has only been amplified during this period of pandemic.

More than a meal, the regular deliveries from volunteers also provide friendly connection to the community, with a minimum of risk. “It gives me something to look forward to when they come and bring the meals,” Ramona exclaims.

And perhaps, in a period of self-isolation and physical distancing, the guarantee of a safe visit from a smiling face makes the biggest difference of all.

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