Boston Elder Nutrition Program

Meals on Wheels

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Community Cafes

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The Ethos Nutrition program started in 1973 and is one of more than 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs in the United States. Through its home delivered meals (Meals on Wheels) and congregate meals (Community Cafés)  programs, Ethos provides well over 2,634,000 meals to seniors who need them annually. The organization also offers nutrition check-ups and counseling from a licensed dietician.

Today there are 40 community cafes throughout Boston. Community cafes are open to any person 60 or over. If a spouse is under 60, they are welcome as are younger residents of a building that houses a community café. An anonymous, confidential donation of $2.00 per meal is requested. The community cafes sponsor events ranging from summer barbecues to exercise programs to political events.

Meals-on-wheels are a major part of the Nutrition Program. People 60 or over in southwest Boston who are unable to easily leave the house and cannot prepare a nutritious meal, are eligible for the program. Ethos requests a donation of $2.00 per meal and sends a reminder each month.

The nutrition program also includes “Nutrition Check-ups” from a registered dietitian, with the option of a full assessment and nutrition plan. Thanks to a grant from the City of Boston, Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, this service is available for a donation, not a fee.


  • Meals on Wheels Home-delivered meals for those who can’t cook for themselves.
  • Community Cafés Communal lunches, served up with social and cultural activities at convenient locations across the city.
  • Diverse Menus options include sandwiches, traditional American fare, Asian, Caribbean, Vietnamese, African-American, Italian, vegetarian and Kosher meals. We also offer therapeutic menus.
  • Counseling and “Nutrition checkups”, nutrition planning, and advice on healthy eating and special diets.
  • Group Nutrition Education and Advice Staff dietitians are available to speak to community groups, senior centers, and residents of elderly housing.


Adequate nutrition is necessary for health, functionality, and the ability to remain independent. Healthy eating can increase mental acuity, resistance to illness and disease, energy levels, immune system strength, recuperation speed, and the ability to manage chronic health problems. The Boston Elder Nutrition Program at Ethos ensures that seniors have access to adequate nutrition even when family support, mobility, and resources are lacking.


For many seniors, the trusted Meals on Wheels volunteer or staff member who shows up every day with a hot meal and a warm smile is the only person they see or speak with all day. This special delivery is the reason to get up in the morning, something to look forward to, and a reminder to take good care of themselves. Seniors traveling to group settings for meals also receive valuable social interaction and companionship. All of us can attest that a meal can be much more than the food on the plate, but also the company across the table.


Along with the inevitable impacts of aging come the increased risks of medical emergencies, falls, and other accidents. The safety check that accompanies each meal delivery ensures that, in the case of an emergency or problem, medics will be called, families will be notified, and our seniors will not be forgotten.


The Boston Elder Nutrition Program at Ethos also offers additional services that further support the quality of life and independence of our clients. We offer meals to meet special dietary needs, cultural, or ethnic preferences. We also provide emergency meals for bad weather days.

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