Objective Home-delivered nutrition programmes that are federally subsidized by the US Administration on Aging seek to ensure that socially isolated older adults who are unable to purchase and prepare their own food have nutritious meals delivered to them regularly by both employed and volunteer staff. Unfortunately, there are long waiting lists in some neighbourhoods that are often due to a shortage of volunteers. The present paper describes a theoretically driven community-based project designed to increase volunteer participation in serving Meals on Wheels (MOW) clients.Design A Support Team model was applied in the project wherein existing social capital among religious faith communities, and social networks within those organizations, was joined with a local MOW programme to create a sustainable meal delivery route to vulnerable homebound older adults.Setting The programme participants were in one underserved neighbourhood in Birmingham, Alabama, an urban city in the south-eastern USA.Subjects The subjects under consideration are both MOW clients and volunteers. MOW clients are those individuals aged 60 years and above who qualify for the service; the volunteers are from community churches.Results One volunteer route, comprising six congregations that delivered meals to sixteen homebound older adults, was created. The route served more than 2000 meals in 2006 (the year the programme began) and continues to serve clients today.Conclusions The programme-s successful implementation provides evidence that reliance on theory is critical in planning and developing effective community-based programme interventions. © 2010 The Authors.