Meals on Wheels doesn’t just deliver nourishment to seniors in the form of food—they also supply them with daily conversation and companionship, a touching commodity that Philadelphia-based Colin Lenton experiences firsthand when he photographs seniors for Meals on Wheels America. Colin has chatted with recipients of the program from San Antonio to Baltimore, and the images he captures show a sense of familiarity and friendship that the nonprofit embodies.
Can you tell me more about this project and how you got involved?
Over the last year and a half, I’ve had the great pleasure to be able to travel around the country with Meals on Wheels America. Meals on Wheels provides nutritious meals, along with a friendly visit and a safety check for millions of seniors. My grandmother received their meals for years and loved it, so when I got the first call about this project I was excited to be able to help.
Meals on Wheels: Baltimore, MD
I was originally reached out to for a shoot local to the Philly area and it went well. I expressed interest in doing more shoots with Meals on Wheels throughout the year and have been working with them since then. Sometimes I’ll coordinate with them when I’m traveling for commercial shoots so my travel is already covered. They’ve been very happy with the images and they use them on their social media channels and their website where they’ve been getting some positive engagement.
What do your visits with seniors usually involve?
We go out and try to coordinate with branch offices to visit about five or six recipients with the volunteer that normally delivers their food, do a short interview with each of them, and listen to what they like about the food and the program. My favorite part is getting to know the recipients—some of them are over a hundred years old, so it’s interesting to hear what they’ve seen in their lifetime.
What has been the best part of this experience?
Professionally, I’ve been helping Meals on Wheels build a library of images they can use for all sorts of various needs they may have, but on a personal level, I’ve been able to meet some great volunteers and some even more inspiring seniors. For many of the Meals on Wheels’ recipients, the brief time they get to talk with the volunteers is the highlight of their day, and on the shoots the brief time I get to talk with the seniors is the highlight of my day.
You mentioned your grandmother used to receive these meals. Can you tell me more about that?
My grandmother loved to talk, and when she would get the meals, her favorite part, and what a lot of people really like, is the companionship, so when they get a few minutes to talk to the volunteer, they appreciate that almost more than the meal itself.
See more of Colin Lenton’s work on his website.