Our core program
Our heart is a Meals-on-Wheels (MOW) service organized by young people who are committed to building a healthy and dynamic community. More than just a program that aims to nourish the body, we use the social potential of food to bring people together across generational, social, and ethnic lines in order to strengthen the community and to strengthen each other.
Our Meals-on-Wheels is our first program, the one around which the organization was built back in 1995. Considered to be the core of the Roulant, the Meals-on-Wheels responds to the increasing need for greater food security among the elderly, but also to the shared desire, as manifested by our volunteers, to build a rich and healthy social fabric.
Over the years, the program has evolved to become more holistic while staying focused on it’s primary objective: to use food as a vehicle to break social isolation.
The Meals-on-Wheels Service
The service consists in delivering freshly-prepared meals to the homes of individuals living with a loss of autonomy. These individuals, who are for the most part seniors, require a bit of support with the challenging task of purchasing ingredients and preparing healthy and nutritious meals. Some only require our services temporarily, while other benefit from the meals and the visits on a more ongoing basis.
It is through these visits and meals that the service supports the desire of our client-members to stay in their own homes and in their own communities for as long as possible by helping them maintain their food autonomy. The MOW certainly works on issues of food security, but it also touches on financial security. Aware of the fact that most seniors in Montreal live on a very tight budget, all of our meals are subsidized at about 50% of their total cost.
It’s thanks to hundreds of volunteers that we can offer this service to folks who are in need; the volunteers prepare and deliver the meals to client-members 5 days per week. Given the essential-service nature of our service, we don’t close on holidays, and our meals are prepared and delivered even on holidays.
These daily deliveries allow us to reach out and connect two generations, and the visits contribute to breaking down social isolation. A warm meal and a smiling greeting sometimes suffice to boost our clients’ feeling of security and safety. In addition, our volunteers play an important role as the eyes and ears of family members and healthcare professionals who simply cannot visit as often as we do. Volunteers help us ensure that our clients are doing well, and likewise make it possible for us to promptly let healthcare workers and family members know when something is up.
There are close to 100 meals-on-wheel and volunteer food service organizations operating in Montreal. Close to half of these are considered ‘artisanal’ and they do some absolutely amazing and praise-worthy work. With just a handful of dedicated volunteers and little-to-know funding, they find ways to deliver home-cooked meals once or twice per week to appreciative seniors.
The Roulant is among the larger half of meals-on-wheels in Montreal, and on average we deliver about 80 home-made meals 5 times per week.
There are many models for Meals-on-Wheels services in Montreal, in Quebec, and throughout North America. Knowing that the average age of Meals-on-Wheels volunteers in Montreal is 72 however, our MOW at the Roulant stands out because of its intergenerational nature: 75% of our volunteers are less than 35 years old.
Other characteristics of our service are just as unique: volunteers contribute when and as often as they chose, our clients have a direct say in the meals we deliver and the activities we organize, our meals are nutritionally balanced and personalized to the dietary restrictions and preferences of each client, and we are very attentive to our environmental impact.
Food for thought
Seniors living with a loss of autonomy represent the majority of our client-members.
We are convinced that Meals-on-Wheels services play a critically important role in directly supporting people to live happy and healthy lives in their homes, directly through regular and nutritious meals, and indirectly by breaking down social and economic isolation.
“The evidence is clear. Older adults can live longer, healthier lives by staying socially connected, increasing their levels of physical activity, eating in a healthy way, taking steps to minimize their risks for falls and refraining from smoking. But there are real environmental, systemic and social barriers to adopting these healthy behaviours. Some relate to inequities as a result of gender, culture, ability, income, geography, ageism and living situations. These barriers and inequities need to be and can be addressed now.”
Today, one in seven people in Quebec is over the age of 65. By 2025, an estimated one in four people in Quebec will be over the age of 65 (source