Cape Breton Meals on Wheels makes bike delivery permanent

Cape Breton Post, May 14, 2024

SYDNEY, N.S. — New Dawn Meals on Wheels is officially launching its Meals on 2 Wheels program.

The concept is in partnership with the Cape Breton Island Centre for Education.

Meals on Wheels manager Sara Roth said the idea was to create a program that would allow volunteers, particularly newcomers, an opportunity to make deliveries if they don’t have a car.

“We found their clients were looking for meaningful opportunities and we were looking for volunteers,” Roth said.

With support from the provincial government Connect 2 Active Transportation, a pilot Meals on 2 Wheels project was conducted in the fall with four bikes and six volunteers on 20 routes delivering more than 200 meals.

“Following the pilot, we decided to make the program permanent this spring,” Roth said.

Meals on 2 Wheels will run seasonally, May to November.

The program, besides matching newcomer volunteers with meaningful opportunities, also is aimed to reduce the carbon footprint.

Another group of volunteers was trained this spring as some have moved on or have full-time jobs.

Six volunteers have been vetted and are trailed and ready to go.

“We definitely have room for more, especially for folks who like to ride their own bicycles,” Roth said.

While somewhat limited due to the number of e-bikes and volunteers Roth said the bike delivery could technically take care of 40 per cent of the Meals on Wheels deliveries, including downtown Sydney, to Alexander Street, Membertou and as far as Cottage Road.

While this program supplies the e-bikes and is catered towards newcomers, Roth said any cyclist confident in using their own pedal bike is welcome to volunteer, as are those who can deliver via vehicle.

“We definitely support active transportation here at Meals on Wheels,” Roth said. “It is certainly wonderful to get out and use the bikes. I was out with a group (Monday) and we had a great time.”

As it is a new program, cyclists are sent out in pairs and deliver up to 15-20 meals per route in about an hour and a half. The meals are kept in insulated bags.

If people volunteer with pedal bikes they will take part in a 1.5-hour orientation. It helps if they have a basket or rack.

But if using e-bikes, there’s a detailed two half-day training program through non-profit bicycling organization Velo Cape Breton. Volunteers also receive membership.

The need for prepared meals for those who can’t make their own is constant, Roth said.

A special event is being held Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. at the Eltuek Arts Centre, in Sydney. The event will feature an all-ages bike parade and a community picnic.

Besides Sydney, the Meals On Wheels program delivers to Sydney River, Westmount, Coxheath, Ashby and Whitney Pier Monday to Thursday based on an affordable income-based sliding scale.

More information is available at


– Barb Sweet is a multimedia journalist with the Cape Breton Post. Follow her on X (Twitter) @BarbSweetTweets.