Research on Prepared Meals
In 2019, the Greater Chicago Food Depository partnered with more than 20 local organizations to study the need for prepared meals. Our studies focused on low-income older adults and people with disabilities.
We learned that many people struggling with food insecurity are also having a hard time managing meal preparation, special diets, and insufficient incomes. Interest in receiving nutrition assistance in the form of prepared meals is high, though only under specific conditions. This study built on our previous findings in our 2017 study on disabilities and food insecurity.
Our Partnership with the Mayor’s Office on People with Disabilities
The Food Depository worked with the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to survey people who receive MOPD’s services. The survey focused on food access limitations and the need for additional prepared meal programming.
Summary of Findings
- Many participants in MOPD programs face food access limitations. People who reported a special diet were most likely to screen at risk for food insecurity. Participants reported making tradeoffs between maintaining a nutritious diet and paying for other essentials like utilities, medical care and transportation.
- The majority of survey takers would be interested in receiving home-delivered meals. More than 80% of respondents expressed interest in a frozen or hot prepared meal program; the vast majority wanting home delivery.
- Healthy prepared meals that support special diets are recommended. While participants have some resources for nutritious meals, there is an opportunity to fill gaps in service.