1973, the Governor’s Smith County Committee on Aging conducted a study to determine how the community could best care for senior citizens. They enlisted the assistance of the Ministerial Alliance, and after some study and discussion, the group determined that inadequate nutrition was a major issue plaguing the senior population. They also believed that many of the elderly could continue living independently in their own homes instead of going into nursing homes if they had help with their meal preparation.
A steering committee was appointed to examine the best way for the community to solve this problem of senior hunger, and committee members began visiting cities that had Meals on Wheels programs. Some programs provided only home-delivered meals, and others, with help from federal funding, had Senior Centers where able-bodied seniors could enjoy fellowship and get a balanced meal for a small donation. That same year, “Meals on Wheels Ministry, Inc.” was formed and incorporated. There were four sponsoring groups: the Tyler Ministerial Alliance, the East Texas Hospital Foundation, the Smith County Area Health Council, and the Governor’s Council on Aging.
Committee members selected thirty recipients from the original 45 screened applicants, and Ms. Laura Sebastian, age 97, received the first meal delivered by Mrs. Hershel Sobol and Mrs. Bessie Sawyer on October 15, 1973. Meals were purchased from Wyatt’s Cafeteria on Beckham in Tyler.
Meals on Wheels Ministry delivers nutritious meals, safety checks and other services that enable seniors and disabled citizens to remain in their own homes.
Meals on Wheels Ministry, Inc. serves a daily meal to about 3,000 frail, home-bound senior citizens and disabled persons for every weekday in East Texas. These meals are prepared fresh at the central kitchen in Tyler. The meals are then delivered by compassionate volunteers to eligible persons who cannot provide meals for themselves. Often this is the only meal they will have that day.
- To supply homebound seniors and disabled citizens nutritious meals.
- To abate the loneliness and isolation of elderly and disabled persons by providing daily contact with members of their communities.
- To promote the health, safety, and welfare of all elderly and disabled persons in East Texas.