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Celebrating Women’s History Month: Did you Know that Meals on Wheels was Created by Women?

March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to celebrate than to recognize the founders of Meals on Wheels and Coal Creek Meals on Wheels!

In 1940 during World War II, the “Blitz” (a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom) caused thousands of people in the United Kingdom to lose their homes with no way of cooking meals. Who came to the rescue? The Women’s Volunteer Service of Great Britain. These resilient women started cooking meals and delivering them to people who needed them. British restaurants also helped by donating food to the Women’s Volunteer Service. The first delivery was in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England in 1943. The Women’s Volunteer Service is now called the Royal Voluntary Service. Women would deliver meals and refreshments to people and soldiers via prams or baby strollers, carts, bicycles with baskets, and cars, as well as by foot. This is when the name “Meals on Wheels” was coined.

This photograph depicts members of a London WVS Centre, in 1947, loading pails containing individually portioned Meals on Wheels onto a delivery van. Source: Royal Voluntary Service

Meals on Wheels first started in the United States in 1954. Margaret Toy, who was a social worker in Philadelphia, pioneered a program to support the nourishment of homebound seniors and “shut-ins” in the area. Many of the volunteers were called “Platter Angels” who were high school students who volunteered to package and distribute food. Soon enough, Meals on Wheels spread throughout the United States, and today, there are over 5,000 programs across the country. Around the world, Meals on Wheels organizations have locations throughout Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Coal Creek Meals on Wheels was founded by Sue Marolf, a resident of Lafayette, in 1972. Sue volunteered at the Boulder Meals on Wheels in the early 1970s and saw a need for it in her community of East Boulder County. She gathered a board of directors and two staff members to help create what is now Coal Creek Meals on Wheels. The first meals were made on a small four-burner stove top in the First United Methodist Church of Lafayette and delivered to residents. In 2015, Coal Creek Meals on Wheels moved from the First United Methodist Church of Lafayette to our current location in the Josephine Commons.

Sue Marolf and a kitchen volunteer in 1973

Original Board of Directors in 1972

We are extremely grateful for these strong and participatory women who helped create Meals on Wheels organizations, which continue to help feed those in need of nourishment. This Women’s History Month, we are proud to celebrate the women who established Meals on Wheels and the women who continue to support the organizations today. If you have ever been a Meals on Wheels or CCMOW supporter - thank you!

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