Meals on Wheels originated in the United Kingdom during the Blitz, when many people lost their homes and therefore the ability to cook their own food. The Women’s Volunteer Service for Civil Defence (WVS, later WRVS) provided food for these people. The name “Meals on Wheels” derived from the WVS’s related activity of bringing meals to servicemen. The concept of delivering meals to those unable to prepare their own evolved into the modern programmes that deliver mostly to the housebound elderly, sometimes free, or at a small charge.
United Kingdom (1943)
The first home delivery of a meal on wheels following World War II was made by the WVS in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England in 1943. Many early services used old prams to transport the meals, using straw bales, and even old felt hats, to keep the meals warm in transit.
This type of service requires many volunteers with an adequate knowledge of basic cooking to prepare the meals by a set time each day. The majority of local authorities in the United Kingdom have now moved away from freshly cooked food delivery, and towards the supply of frozen pre-cooked reheatable meals.