Meals on Wheels of Northampton County (MOWNC) experienced a period of unprecedented growth in the 1990s. Clientele grew each year and the need for control over food production and addition of staff led to the realization that an agency expansion was needed. Land was purchased for a new Meals on Wheels center.
On July 3, 1991, MOWNC moved into their new building on Fritch Drive in Bethlehem Township. This was the first time that meal preparation and office staff consolidated under one roof! The building included a large kitchen, offices for staff, a large Board Room, a Carrier Room for the coolers and a Volunteer Lounge. The side of the building had an overhang drive-through so volunteers could load their cars with coolers without getting wet in the rain. For its time, this building was state-of-the-art for meal production and delivery.
MOWNC celebrated their 20th Anniversary soon thereafter. The agency tackled this next decade by adding programs to better serve the clients. The Hot Meal program was introduced and the agency began supplying “Blizzard Boxes” so clients would have shelf stable food during adverse weather conditions. This is also when the grocery shopping service called “Food Line” or what is now called “Market on Wheels” was introduced.
Over the next three decades, MOWNC saw continued growth in clientele and the need for increased meal production. The agency once again added programs to address clients’ needs: the a la carte Chef Pack frozen meals and the Ani-Meal pet food program. The organization expanded meal production beyond their own clients by forming partnerships to make meals for local senior centers and child care centers.
As the years passed, production increased and the once modern building became inadequate to meet emerging needs of the Lehigh Valley. The 2018 merger with Lehigh County created the opportunity to move to a new, centralized location to better serve the entire Lehigh Valley while updating and expanding the building. The agency purchased the Sherman Street building off of Airport Road in Allentown, with access to major highways and delivery routes. The interior was renovated to provide nearly double the kitchen and storage space as well as more modern and efficient office space. The Fleming Community Café was added to provide a space for the community to hold meetings experience Meals on Wheels meals.
Meals on Wheels kitchen staff prepared their last hot meal in the Fritch Drive location on Friday, July 23rd, 2021. This building was home for 30 years and allowed the kitchen staff to prepare and volunteers to deliver almost 4.5 million meals! While the day was bittersweet, Meals on Wheels staff, Board members and volunteers alike are excited to take on a new adventure in a larger, more centrally located building in Allentown.