Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels: Handyman Program is “More than a Meal”

Ken Ton Meals on Wheels Handyman Program

Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels is an organization in Kenmore and Tonawanda, NY, that provides nutritious meals and volunteer opportunities as strategies to overcome isolation and hunger among older adults. The organization serves over 85,000 meals each year. In 2018, the Aging By Design project team worked with clients and volunteers to design, prototype, test, and improve a handyman services program aimed at keeping older adults in their homes for longer.

“The Handyman project came about because my mother was the second-youngest of ten kids, so all my aunts and uncles were older. When their kids grew up and moved out of town, my sister and I were responsible for them. I’d go over to see them here and there and would see their curtain laying on the ground…but they didn’t want to bother me. So I thought about people going house to house with the meals seeing that type of thing.”

Prototype, Test, Improve

Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels has an extensive network of clients that could benefit from handyman-style repairs, as well as volunteers that are good at building trusting relationships.

Through multiple rounds of iterative design and development, the Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels project team created a comprehensive operating manual for the program. As the program has developed, the project team notes that requests for work tend to fall into one of three categories: handyman-style repairs, groundskeeping, and housekeeping.

The toolkit includes examples of the materials required to run the program, sample work request forms, draft letters to contractors and fire departments, contractor contact lists, and other operating procedures. Organizations interested in creating their own Handyman Services Program are encouraged to download the Operating Manual and adapt the materials created by the Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels project team. You can learn more about the program or request services on Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels’ website.

Handyman Program Promotional Video

KenTon Meals on Wheels invited clients and volunteers to help promote the new program by walking potential clients through a visit. The program is also promoted on the organization’s website, in local papers, and on social media.

In their own words…

Listen to the audio clip below and watch the video to hear what participants and staff from KenTon Meals on Wheels are saying about the approach, and the impact on their lives.

“We were lucky enough to get picked to have the grant and it was nice to see it because I live this.”

For more information on Aging By Design, visit