Altadena Meals on Wheels Bounces Back with PCF Senior Grant

Two older Black women stand on either side of a cart with a basket on top. A sign reads Altadena Meals on Wheels. Altadena Meals on Wheels board members Norma Wright and Shelley Mitchell ready food for delivery. June 8, 2024.

Altadena Meals on Wheels (AMOW) began its meal service for aging residents in 1973.  At the time, the Pasadena Community Foundation (then known as the Pasadena Foundation) provided funding to purchase office and kitchen equipment. Now, more than 50 years later, a 2024 PCF Senior Grant has helped the organization restart its operations following some setbacks during the pandemic.

Nourishment and A Friendly Face

Altadena’s total population stands at 43,000, and of that 20% are 65 or older – a figure 1.3 times higher than the 15% rate in California. AMOW uses a dedicated team of volunteers to deliver hot and tasty meals to older adults who are confined to their homes for reasons including illness, post-surgery rehabilitation, convalescence, and/or age.  The organization helps clients live healthier lives and remain independent in the comfort and security of their own homes for as long as possible.

Shelley Mitchell, an AMOW board member, recently gave PCF a tour of their headquarters at the Altadena Senior Center. There, each weekday, a small team receives food prepared by the San Gabriel Valley YWCA; meals are prepped by dieticians who are expert in seniors’ needs. AMOW has used part of PCF’s funding to subsidize the cost of meals, which increased significantly following the pandemic. Clients now pay $7.50 per meal. Along with nourishment, clients also get a daily, friendly check-in, something that puts many families’ minds at ease. “A lot of the clients have adult children in other cities or states, making them very dependent on us,” Shirley notes. “Some of these seniors, we are the only face they see all day. We check in on them and make sure they’re doing ok.”

Two women start aside a cart filled with food and a large basket and cooler on top.
Norma Wright (left) and AMOW Board Chair Amy Walden regularly help prepare and deliver meals to seniors.

The Covid pandemic introduced a series of challenges that prevented AMOW from promptly resuming its meal delivery program until November 2023. The organization is determined to bounce back, however, and is working diligently to add more volunteers and clients to its operations. PCF’s grant helped in this way too: AMOW has used the funding for volunteer and client outreach and recruitment, as well as t-shirts, vehicle signs, and an appreciation lunch for volunteers. AMOW has successfully recruited several new volunteer drivers for meal delivery service and continues to grow its clientele.

Your help is needed!

The organization continues to recruit volunteers and clients. Do you have time to help or do you know someone in need of meals? Do you have supplies like coolers to donate? Call the organization at 626.794.0313 to learn more.

AMOW used part of PCF’s funding to create and mail outreach postcards to recruit new clients. The organization has signed on several new seniors in the last two months who learned about AMOW through the postcards.