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Meals on Wheels volunteer with plastic bag of food packed for customer

How Wilder Meals on Wheels increased support for Saint Paul community members during the pandemic


Wilder Meals on Wheels provides affordable, nutritious hot or frozen meals to adults, older adults, and seniors living in Saint Paul neighborhoods. Pre-pandemic, our volunteers delivered about 2,000 hot meals per month, with options to meet many dietary restrictions, cultural preferences and medical needs.

As concerns over the pandemic hit Minnesota, the need for nutritious home-delivered meals skyrocketed – and Wilder and other organizations who deliver Meals on Wheels responded.


Demand grew with emergency pandemic funding

In March 2020, Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program shifted dramatically: participants began receiving weekly deliveries of frozen meals and regular phone calls to check on their well-being – and the volume increased. In December 2020 our volunteers packed and delivered 7,252 meals, nearly four times our pre-pandemic numbers. This increase was largely because funding was available through the CARES Act via Ramsey County Emergency Funding and continued by Metro Meals on Wheels fundraising efforts.

As vaccinations became available and summer weather made it easier to get outside, fewer community members were expressing need for meals. In June 2021, Wilder volunteers delivered 4,008 meals, nearly half of what was going out the door at our peak, but still twice our numbers pre-pandemic.

More than half of our new, larger community of meal recipients pay for their meals using temporary COVID relief funding provided by Metro Meals on Wheels, which demonstrates that there is a need in our community for prepared meals and that payment is a barrier.

Demand for Wilder Meals on Wheels rose dramatically during the pandemic.

  • Before the pandemic, volunteers delivered about 2,000 meals per month.

  • In December 2020,  volunteers packed and delivered 7,252 meals, nearly four times pre-pandemic numbers.

  • In June 2021, volunteers packed and delivered 4,008 meals, down from December but still twice as many as pre-pandemic.

Our next challenge: Finding ways to sustain Meals on Wheels for our community members

The COVID funding currently covering meal costs is tapering down and will likely end soon. Wilder staff are working on ways to support clients once funding ends. We want to avoid a return to people skipping meals and buying non-nutritious ‘cheap’ accessible foods, because that makes people ultimately less able to maintain their health and independence in the long run.

Working together, we can draw on the strengths of our community to help Meals on Wheels continue supporting our neighbors, with the long-term goal of ensuring that participants are able to maintain their desired living situations and have an improved sense of well-being and improved health.

How can you support Meals on Wheels at Wilder?


Volunteer for Meals on Wheels as a meal packer or delivery driver. 


Donate to Wilder Meals on Wheels


Spread the word about Meals on Wheels! Let potential participants and volunteers know they can get involved with Wilder Meals on Wheels

Do you or someone you know need Meals on Wheels?

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