Meals on Wheels of Shawnee and Jefferson Counties, Inc. was founded in 1972 as Mobile Meals of Topeka, Inc. The Junior League was instrumental in establishing the organization. The program was started at the request of The Community Resources Council with input from The American Red Cross, Church Women United, The Menninger Foundation, Shawnee County Health Department, and Medical Society of Topeka. The organization is currently governed by a 16 member Board of Directors.
On October 1, 1992, Meals on Wheels began executing a contract received from the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging and the Kansas Department on Aging. The agency now serves home delivered meals in Shawnee and Jefferson Counties that are funded by the state and federal government. The contract virtually doubled the existing program.
The home delivery service area is divided into routes. Meals on Wheels has grown from 14 routes in 1991 to 57 routes in Topeka, and 11 routes in the counties, presently. Today, funds are provided by a combination of client contributions, private and corporate donations, United Way, local, county, state and federal government grants.
Meals on Wheels home delivered program provides one key element in the ability to live independently for homebound, seniors and disabled individuals in Shawnee and Jefferson counties. Each weekday, a hot meal is brought to their home. Meals on Wheels also provides a daily safety check for clients. Meals are nutritionally balanced, provide variety and are tailored to meet special dietary needs.
In 2011, Meals on Wheels and Topeka Public Schools (TPS) entered into a partnership for the preparation of nearly 1,000 meals per day. Also in 2011, in an effort to meet rural needs, a multi-day delivery of meals began. During the summer of 2012, as senior food insecurity continued to increase, delivery of fresh, ready-to-heat weekend and/or holiday meals were made available to individuals in Jefferson County and rural Shawnee County. These additional meals are delivered on Fridays for Saturday and Sunday consumption and the business day prior to a holiday.
Meals on Wheels of Shawnee and Jefferson Counties achieved Magnet Accreditation through The Meals on Wheels Association of America in September of 2011 for demonstrating accountability and success in program safety, program quality, and program efficiency.
In 2017, Meals on Wheels entered into a Management Services Agreement with Midland Care Connection. The goal of the collaboration is to streamline and control administrative expenses i.e. liability insurance, employee health benefits to the greatest extent. The anticipated outcome is that a greater portion of fundraised dollars goes directly to the provision of the meals.
Karren Weichert, Chair
Heidi Pickerell, Vice Chair
Chad Wilkins, Treasurer
Brenden Long, Secretary
President & CEO
Director of Events & Special Projects
Cheryl Allen, RD, LD
Nutrition & Volunteer Coordinator
Meal Program Assistant
Dining Center service providers must establish an advisory group, to include eligible participants of the program and individuals who are knowledgeable of the needs of older adults. Participants and representatives of each of our dining centers listed below are invited to participate in a quarterly meeting. The meeting is held on the third Tuesday of March, June, September and December at 2:00 pm at the Meals on Wheels Office.