Contacting 211 is one of the best ways you can learn about community and social service programs that can help improve your quality of life. In fact, the 211 helpline in Ontario answered more than 300,000 calls in 2021, with a quarter of those calls related to basic needs like housing, food, financial assistance and help with utility bills.

Many calls were from seniors and caregivers who wanted to know what type of practical help is available and how to access it.


As you age you may lose mobility, which can make it more difficult to shop for food or cook. If this is the case, programs like Meals on Wheels can provide hot meals delivered to a senior’s home. Volunteers will not only deliver nutritious and affordable meals, but they will stay for a chat and check on your health and safety.

If you can get around a little more easily, you can access free or low-cost meal programs at community agencies such as senior centres. You may also be eligible for food bank services, food vouchers and emergency food hampers. Some municipalities also operate food box programs, which deliver boxes of affordable, fresh produce to pick-up locations on a regular basis.

Dial 2-1-1 to find out what food or meal programs are available near you or use our online search.

Social, Recreation and Education Programs

Many community and seniors’ centres offer recreation programs, including exercise classes, arts and crafts, and organized outings.

Another way to keep active and socially connected is through volunteering. Local Parks and Recreation Departments also offer a variety of low-cost recreation options, everything from line dancing to Indian cooking to making jewellery.

As well, public libraries aren’t just about books — they also provide free internet and computer access, training, workshops and special events for the community on a range of topics and for all ages.

Our 211 Community Navigators can help connect you to programs in your area.

Help with Pet Costs

If you own a cat or dog, you are probably aware that they can promote well-being. Nevertheless, paying their expenses can be a source of stress if finances are tight. If you’re struggling to pay vet bills and have a low income, are on social assistance, or live in certain supportive housing for seniors, the Farley Foundation may be able to help with the cost for critical procedures or treatment. On top of this, some municipalities offer low-cost spay and neuter clinics and other organizations may operate pet food banks.

Programs and services available vary by community and can change from season to season. Call 211 to get up-to-date information 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Read the other blogs in our seniors’ series: