More Than a Meal: Research Documenting the Impact of Home-Delivered Meals Programs to Inform Policy and Practice

By Katherine Buck '20 | April 11, 2018

Kali Thomas presentation

On March 26, the NHIOP was privileged to have Dr. Kali S. Thomas speak on her research, "More Than a Meal: Research Documenting the Impact of Home-Delivered Meals Programs to Inform Policy and Practice.” 

Dr. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice at Brown University’s School of Public Health, and a Research Health Science Specialist at the Providence VA Medical Center's Center of Innovation for Long-term Services and Supports. She received her Ph.D. in Aging Studies from the University of South Florida, and completed an AHRQ-funded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research.

The presentation focused mainly on the Meals on Wheels program. Dr. Thomas discussed the importance of the program while providing research to back her claims as to why Meals on Wheels is “more than just a program.”

Dr. Thomas spoke about her own experience as a volunteer Meals on Wheels driver. Her own testimonial detailed how many of the elderly participants in the program get all of their socialization from the driver delivering their meals each week.

An especially compelling aspect of the presentation was when Dr. Thomas spoke about the competing organizations of Meals on Wheels. These competitors deliver frozen meals once a week instead of interactive deliveries Meals on Wheels provides. Her research has been able to prove that those who received their food through Meals on Wheels reported less depression, anxiety, and a lower fall count than those who received their meals through a competing organization that provided frozen meals.

Dr. Thomas’ research has helped provide more funding for the Older Americans Act, specifically relating to nutrition. She also notes that there is much more to be done when it comes to providing the elderly with the proper nutrition and socialization they need. With further research, she hopes to provide more help to those that are on the wait list for Meals on Wheels.

This talk was cosponsored by the NH Institute of Politics Distinguished Speaker Series and the Psychology Department’s Annual Hechtl/Lasky Lecture Series. The series is in honor of former faculty members Richard Hechtl and Julian "Jack" Lasky, who were leaders in Saint Anselm College's psychology department, having devoted their careers to promoting wellness through basic and applied psychology research.