Are East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) and East Cooper Meals on Wheels (ECMOW) the same organization?

Both are great organizations but are completely separate nonprofit organizations and serve different populations.

ECCO focuses on families and three areas: basic needs (food & clothing), health services, and empowerment (helping people get out of poverty). They provide a safety net while empowering individuals and families to create a brighter future.

ECMOW serves a very different population, people who are homebound, typically no longer in the workforce, and who are physically unable to prepare a meal. Meals on Wheels nationally is the only organization focused specifically on this often forgotten population who are mostly confined to home and therefore often forgotten.

How is East Cooper Meals on Wheels funded?

There are 5,000 Meals on Wheels organizations across the country, and they operate as part of an association but are all separate entities which gives them the freedom to adapt to meet the unique needs of their communities. Half of the Meals on Wheels are government-funded and must therefore follow the guidelines that come with the government funding. We are part of the other half of Meals on Wheels which are privately funded, meaning we depend on the support of our community to fund our operations and to serve our neighbors.

Over the years, this community has been very supportive, not just financially but also with their time. We have over 450 volunteers who donate their time and deliver using their personal vehicles making it all possible, and we have partners like Christ Church who provide our facilities rent free. This in-kind support allows the funds we raise to go further and allows us to focus on the food and programs to serve our recipients.

Where do the meals come from?

Because food is one of our largest expenses, we always try to find the lowest costs possible. Rather than cook onsite, we purchase 90% of our meals fully prepared from two local nonprofits -- the Lowcountry Food Bank and Senior Catering. Both organizations are much larger with dieticians, dedicated kitchen staffs, and larger economies of scale. They provide appetizing meals while meeting all the necessary dietary standards, at a cost lower than we could achieve cooking ourselves. Our meal purchases, in turn, help to fund their organizations and we’re not duplicating a service already available at a lower cost.

The remaining 10% of meals are donated from two sources: Christ Church has a ministry group that prepares and donates our weekend meals, and the local Noisy Oyster restaurant group donates almost 4,000 meals a year. Both groups are a huge help to us!

Why should I volunteer with East Cooper Meals on Wheels?

We all know what it feels like to be lonely – and to be hungry not just for a meal, but for the nourishment that comes from personal connection. That’s where you and East Cooper Meals on Wheels come in. By becoming a volunteer, you’ll prepare or deliver a meal, provide a friendly visit, and offer a safety check to homebound neighbors who may not have contact with another person all day.

You’ll join more than 450 active volunteers in our area and more than two million others nationally – working collectively throughout the U.S. to make sure the homebound neighbors who took care of us aren’t forgotten, hungry or alone. It doesn’t take much from each of us to improve the lives of so many, and there are many more ways to volunteer. Together, we can make a huge difference for our neighbors in need.

What kind of impact does East Cooper Meals on Wheels have compared to other nonprofits or charities?

Meals on Wheels provides one million meals every day across the U.S. through 5,000 community-based programs just like ours. The nutritious meals we deliver to our homebound neighbors come with a friendly visit and a safety check that 92% of our recipients say enables them to live at home, where they want to be.

Right here in the East Cooper area, we serve over 300 people each day, including 60 Veterans. We’re the only network that’s already in place and there day in and day out for every homebound and aging person in America. We help neighbors in need live with greater dignity, respect, independence, and vitality – and the billions in taxpayer spending saved nationwide by keeping homebound neighbors in their homes instead of in hospitals and nursing homes is felt right here in our community.