Meals on Wheels of R.I.’s Grady become more of a visionary with each meal

SPECIAL DELIVERIES: Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island Executive Director Meghan Grady oversees an organization that is currently averaging about 1,300 food deliveries a day.  
SPECIAL DELIVERIES: Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island Executive Director Meghan Grady oversees an organization that is currently averaging about 1,300 food deliveries a day. 

2023 C-Suite Awards
Nonprofit/Social Service Agency: Meghan Grady | Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island executive director

MEGHAN GRADY LIVES AND BREATHES Rhode Island – the state’s history, its culture and, most importantly, its people.

Since accepting the role of Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island’s executive director in 2019, Grady has relied on both her personal and professional experiences to lead the Providence-based organization.

Meals on Wheels, the state’s only nonprofit home-delivered meal program, has now served elderly and vulnerable residents in the state more than 20 million meals to date. Meals were still delivered at a high level during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grady says the organization provided as many as 4,000 meals a day, up from a pre-pandemic service level of about 1,200 meals per day.

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“Our response demonstrated the strength of our model and the important role we play in the community,” Grady said. “Our team and volunteers were delivery heroes to many seniors who found themselves homebound for the first time and ensured they had access to nutritious food, safety checks and opportunities for socialization.”

A lifelong Rhode Island resident, Grady has always sought ways to provide support and to give back. In her own life, she worked closely with her family to support her grandparents in their later years. Grady says she always knew she wanted to spend her career impacting the lives of others in a positive way.

“I had experience with my family trying to balance my grandparents’ safety and nutritional needs with their desire to age in place, so I also understood the important role that Meals on Wheels can play in an older adult’s life,” Grady said.

Meals on Wheels is now delivering an average of 1,300 meals per day statewide by leveraging its More Than a Meal model. That model provides a meal that meets one-third of a senior’s dietary requirement and includes a safety-assuring wellness check and social visit. Last year, Grady helped the organization launch additional programming that expanded the More Than a Meal model to other vulnerable populations by providing home-delivered meals to pregnant women and shelf-stable food deliveries to people who can’t access the traditional food pantry network.

Grady and the organization’s board of directors recently devised and adopted a 2025 strategic plan in November called Planning for Our Next 20 Million Meals. The plan features a series of targets that focus on innovating the organization’s More Than a Meal model, sustaining and growing its home-delivered meal and congregate dining programs, and building capacity to respond to the anticipated demands of the aging population.

Last year, Meals on Wheels began a pilot project, funded by Point32 Foundation in partnership with Women & Infants Hospital, to serve meals to pregnant and postpartum women and their families. To date, more than 38 women and their families have received nearly 5,000 meals.

Additionally, Grady oversaw the launch of the organization’s Culturally Responsive Meal Program as part of a continuing effort to help clients remain connected to their communities. Along with the organization’s traditional menu offerings, clients may now choose to receive food from Latin-, Asian-, kosher-, and heart-friendly-inspired menus.

Rebecca Keister, Meals on Wheels’ external affairs and mission advancement director, says Grady’s heart belongs to Rhode Island,as well as the work she does and her desire to make the state a better place for everyone, especially the organization’s clients. Keister recalled Grady often repeated the advice that her father gave her that “hard work pays off.” Grady took that to heart, Keister says.

“Her can-do attitude and charismatic personality set a strong tone that has permeated throughout the organization,” Keister said.

“Since her arrival, Meals on Wheels is a stronger, more unified organization internally and has experienced an enhanced spirit of community involvement throughout the state of Rhode Island. Meghan has a vision for Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island and the wherewithal to turn that vision into reality. Because she leads by example, never shying away from getting ‘into’ the work, she is trusted and respected.”

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