Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels began with a gift of $8,000 and 16 hungry neighbors.
Born of a suggestion by the Ypsilanti’s Mayor’s Council on Aging in the spring of 1973, the City Council agreed to appropriate $8,000 to a meal delivery program to begin on July 1, 1973. William Bingham, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ypsilanti and a member of the mayor’s Council on Aging, became the organization’s first Executive Director and gave YMOW its first and only home.
Volunteers gathered to prepare meals in the church kitchen and on January 14, 1974, 16 homebound neighbors received their first home-delivered meals. Just like today, each meal included a friendly visit, a bit of conversation, and assurance that the client was safe and well.
For a time, volunteers picked up cold meals from Eastern Michigan University and heated them at each client’s home. As time passed and demand grew, YMOW purchased vans and equipped them with refrigerators and microwave ovens. Later, Valley Food Service of Detroit was contracted to prepare meals and bring them each weekday morning to YMOW’s offices, where they were transferred to YMOW vans and volunteer vehicles for delivery. Each delivery included a hot meal to be enjoyed immediately and a cold meal for later that day. Friday deliveries included meals to be enjoyed on Saturday.
Along the way YMOW added services to help seniors age in their homes, including pet food delivery through a partnership with Huron Valley Humane Society, minor home repairs, a personal care pantry, weekly produce deliveries and case management.