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"It's Not Just a Simple Meal. It's So Much More": Interactions Between Meals on Wheels Clients and Drivers.

Thomas KS, Gadbois EA, Shield RR, Akobundu U, Morris AM, Dosa DM. "It's Not Just a Simple Meal. It's So Much More": Interactions Between Meals on Wheels Clients and Drivers. Journal of applied gerontology : the official journal of the Southern Gerontological Society. 2020 Feb 1; 39(2):151-158.

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Meals on Wheels (MOW) programs provide home-delivered meals to over 1.5 million older adults; yet, very little is known about the drivers who make meal deliveries possible. Specifically, we do not have clear insight into their interaction with clients or the benefits that they may receive through their service. The objective of this article is to describe the characteristics of MOW drivers, the interactions among drivers and clients, and the benefits of the program to both. This qualitative research study reports on interviews with 84 MOW staff (leadership, case managers/client assessors, volunteer coordinators) and drivers at six geographically and operationally distinct programs across the United States. Qualitative analysis of the interviews with MOW staff and drivers revealed the following key themes: (a) clients have multiple vulnerabilities; (b) clients appear to derive social, as well as nutritional benefit from receiving meals; (c) drivers report they provide additional support to their clients beyond delivering the meal; (d) social bonds between drivers and clients were reported to strengthen over time; (e) drivers claim that they, too, derive validation and personal benefit through their meal delivery. This research highlights the significant contributions that meal delivery drivers made in the lives of MOW clients beyond the actual meal itself. This research also spotlights the perceived benefits experienced by the drivers and points to the importance of conducting further research to determine the effects of meal delivery on client and drivers'' outcomes, more broadly.

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