In 1973, on a Sunday morning the pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church said to the Bible Class, "If Immanuel Lutheran Church disappeared from the face of the earth, do you think anyone in the community would miss us?"
The statement aroused the adult Sunday school class and inspired them to take a look at how the church could be of service to the community. After studying several suggestions, Meals On Wheels was decided upon, and on March 1, 1973 a committee was formed to determine if there was a need for the program in Michigan City. The need was established.
At this point, a steering committee was formed consisting of ten persons from many different walks of life and religious backgrounds. Meals on Wheels programs in other cites were studied, and prospective clients for the service were interviewed. The decision was made to organize and solicit support. The process of incorporating as a Not-For-Profit organization was started and completed on July 31, 1973.
From March of 1973 - February 1974, the idea of a Meals on Wheels program was presented to many organizations and church groups. Letters were sent to all doctors in the community introducing them to the program. Also during that year, Title III (the Older Americans Act) came into existence. Funding was applied for in March of 1974, a grant for $7,500.00 was approved. On March 11, 1974 Meals on Wheels in Michigan City became a reality serving 5 clients.
In order for a new application for Title III funds to be made, it was necessary for Michigan City Meals on Wheels to make an effort to expand their service to the whole of LaPorte County. Therefore, the name was changed in February 1975 to LaPorte County Meals on Wheels: Inc. and our service area was expanded into the county. Funding from Title III continues today and consists of 25% of our current budget.
In January 1978, we were admitted to the United Way as an agency. United Way support continues to this day. In 2010 more than 370 area residents were served with a total of over 66,000 meals delivered.
What began as a single small program in 1954, serving seven seniors has grown into hundreds of local home delivered meal programs that serve millions of elderly, disabled or at-risk persons across the country.
The first American home-delivered meal program began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January of 1954. At the request of the Philadelphia Health and Welfare Council, and funded by a grant, Margaret Toy, a social worker in Philadelphia's Lighthouse Community Center, pioneered a program to provide nourishment that met the dietary needs of homebound seniors and other "shut-ins" in the area who otherwise would have to go hungry. As is the case today, many participants were people who did not require hospitalization, but who simply need a helping hand in order to maintain their independence. Most of the volunteers were high school students, who were dubbed "Platter Angles." The Platter Angles would prepare, package and deliver food to the elderly and disabled thorough their community.
Today's elderly nutrition programs in the United States trace their roots back to Great Britain during World War II (1939). During the Blitz, when German planes bombarded English soil, many people in Britain lost their homes and, subsequently, their ability to cook meals for themselves. The Women's Volunteer Service for the Civil Defense responded to this emergency by preparing and delivering meals to their disadvantaged neighbors. These women also brought refreshments in canteens to servicemen during World War II. The canteens came to be know as "Meals on Wheels." Thus, the first organized nutrition program was born.