The Meals on Wheels Foundation of Northern Illinois is a not-for-profit organization created to increase public awareness and generate contributions to support the services provided by Community Nutrition Network and Senior Services Association (CNNSSA).

The Foundation seeks support for the funding of Community Cafes and home delivery of meals to eligible older adults in Cook, Grundy, and Kendall counties in Illinois.

In order to create new revenue support for CNNSSA’s expansion into the collar counties, additional subsidiaries of the Meals on Wheels Foundation of Northern Illinois were created.

The CNNSSA staff in each of these counties work to raise resources for the programs in that particular county. Funds raised in these counties for the nutrition programs remain in those counties to support the local needs of older adults living there.

The Meals on Wheels Foundation (MOWF) was created in 2001 as the fundraising, community outreach, and public awareness arm of Community Nutrition Network & Senior Services Association.

In 2005, Community Nutrition Network & Senior Services Association began serving seniors in Grundy and Kendall Counties as well as in suburban Cook County. Community Nutrition Network & Senior Services Association is now one of the largest senior meal providers in the nation.

Throughout these three counties, where service is provided, there are nine Community Cafes and nine sites that serve as meal distribution hubs for the Home-Delivery program. Community Nutrition Network & Senior Services Association has expanded the Home-Delivery program so some older adults receive meals seven days a week as needed. Each older adult who receives Home-Delivered meals also receives at least three shelf stable meals at the beginning of each winter in case inclement weather prevents a volunteer from making it to their door.

Over 450,000 seniors in Illinois are threatened by hunger. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Kendall County had 18,037 residents aged 60+ in 2021, and of these, American Community Survey’s 2021 1-Year Estimates gauges that 5% are 100% below poverty level, 32.7% live alone, and 25% are person with disabilities. Our programs in Kendall County ensure that homebound and medically fragile seniors can get the nutrition they need: 57.09% of our clients in Kendall County live alone, 36.22% are low income, and 77.56% are categorized as frail. The same survey estimates that Cook County had 1,132,020 residents aged 60+ in 2021. Of these, 12.9% are estimated to be 100% below the poverty line, 44.1% live alone, and 27.4% are persons with disabilities. In Grundy County, it was estimated that 10,358 residents are aged 60+. Of these older adults, 5.7 % are estimated to be 100% below the poverty line, 41.1% live alone, and 22.4% are persons with disabilities. Lastly, American Community Survey’s 2021 1-year Estimates gauges that 139,458 residents in Will County are aged 60+. Of these residents, it is estimated that 6.7% are 100% below the poverty line, 35.6% live alone, and 24.5% are persons with disabilities.

The Meals on Wheels program helps delay the need for older adults or persons with disabilities to be in a long-term care or assisted living facility which can be very costly to our participants. Being enrolled in the Meals on Wheels program keeps older adults and persons with disabilities healthier and more independent in their own surroundings. The cost of a full year of Home Delivered Meals is about the same cost as staying in a nursing home, assisted living facility or a hospital for just one day. Research has shown that seniors who receive Meals on Wheels are 31% less likely to be hospitalized, 13% less likely to go to an emergency room, 25% less likely to need nursing home support in the 180 days after their Meals on Wheels enrollment. Further, it has been found that Meals on Wheels clients experience 25% decrease in feelings of isolation, 37% decrease in loneliness, 29% self-reported improvement in health, and 12% reduction in anxiety.