The concept of Meals on Wheels originated in Great Britain following the Blitz in 1939 when the Women’s Volunteer Service for Civil Defense began serving food to the ill and elderly who were unable to care for themselves.

An early form of Meals on Wheels originated in Indianapolis in the 1960s as a Little Red Door Cancer Agency program, serving meals by truck, only to cancer patients. This project had to be discontinued due to a lack of clients and the expense involved in delivery.

Early MOW Sign

Early pre-logo Meals on Wheels sign with original (since discontinued) phone number from the seventies.

The National Council of Jewish Women, as a National project, sponsored a “home-delivered” food program with the Indianapolis Section doing the pilot study. This pilot study was executed and directed by volunteers. The food was prepared by the Borinstein Home for the Aged, but with the completion of Hooverwood, many of the clients moved into this new and modern nursing center. At that time, it was not planned to discontinue the program but only postpone it until there was a greater need and demand.

“The Meals on Wheels program began in 1968 as a special project of the National Council of Jewish Women to provide kosher meals to persons unable to shop and prepare their own meals.” Here in Indianapolis “it became a city-wide project in 1971 receiving its funding from the Commission on Aged and Aging and a grant from Lilly Endowment.”
– The Jewish Post and Opinion. Friday, December 28, 1973.

On March 4, 1971, Meals on Wheels starts with six clients and ten volunteers and worked out of University Heights Hospital. With the success, experience and leadership of the National Council of Jewish Women, Technical and Managerial Services (TAMS) assisted in co-sponsoring a new city-wide program, now known as Meals on Wheels, Inc. A number of members of the TAMS Board of Directors became actively involved on the board of Meals on Wheels and made important contributions to the early growth of the program.

Portrait of Mrs. Marge L. Jacobs which resides at The Sol Center.

Mrs. Marge L. Jacobs served as the first president of the board of directors and chair of the Meals on Wheels program. She was the honorary chair until her death in 1997.

University Heights Hospital
Americana Nursing Center, East
Methodist Hospital
Americana Nursing Center, Midtown
Community Hospital
Turtle Creek Convalescent Center, South
Turtle Creek Convalescent Center, SE
Hoosier Village Health Center
Turtle Creek Convalescent Center, Ritter



  • 1972 – Funding from the Indiana Commission on Aged and Aging ($10,000), Lilly Endowment ($3,300) and Community Action Against Poverty ($1,000).
  • 1973 – Awarded the Community Service Council of Metropolitan Indianapolis Agency Award for the year.
  • Dec. 31, 1973 – 131,110 single meals to 821 clients from 9 food facilities, with a current corps of 450 volunteers.
  • Feb. 1975 – 226,000 single meals to 1,300 clients, with a current corps of over 1,000 volunteers.
  • April 19, 1983– One millionth meal delivered
  • 1995 – Our first annual Bingo Bash is held at the Irsay Barn in Carmel
  • July 28, 1999 – First Lady of Indiana Judy O’Bannon delivered the four millionth meal
  • October 21, 2003 – Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson delivered the five millionth meal
  • March 20, 2006 – Meals on Wheels, Inc. expands its name to Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana, inc. to reflect the growing need for delivery service to rural areas.
  • July 22, 2009 – Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivered the six millionth meal
  • 2012 – MOW moves into The Sol Center at 708 E. Michigan St.
  • May 27, 2014 – Celebrated the delivery of the 7 millionth meal to husband and wife, Melvin and Virginia.