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Meals on Wheels will keep rolling

The City of Cold Lake will be taking over temporary responsibility of the Cold Lake Meals on Wheels program, with the help of Cold Lake and District FCSS.

The City of Cold Lake will be taking over temporary responsibility of the Cold Lake Meals on Wheels program, with the help of Cold Lake and District FCSS.

Starting March 1, FCSS will be absorbing the task of administering and distributing the Meals on Wheels program throughout Cold Lake after the Cold Lake Seniors' Society informed council they would no longer be running the program.

“It isn't under the umbrella of our mission statement, so we want to pass it on to whose umbrella it is under,” explained Mary Ann Latty, president of the Cold Lake Seniors' Society.

The program has been available in the city since 1982, with the administrators changing over time. In its earlier years, was operated by Cold Lake hospital volunteers, but over time was passed on to the seniors' society.

The program offers meals at a small cost to residents who sign up for the service. The meals are delivered to their home and range in options from three meals per day, seven days a week, to a lunch and dinner combination. They also offer frozen meals that can be reheated at a latter time.

Latty said the society agreed that their energy should be spent on programs that fall under their mission statement; to provide recreation, social, educational and health related programs for seniors in the Cold Lake and surrounding area.

Not wanting to see the program disappear, the city decided to take it over for the time being, until they can come up with a more permanent solution.

In 2015/16 the program had over 490 requests. Eligibility for the program is determined as any resident within the city that is over the age of 65, convalescents and/or an individual who has a temporary or permanent disability or illness.

“The city is now going to take over the coordinating of getting the meals from the person who is making the meals to the client,” explained Mayor Craig Copeland. “We will review the program and see if we are going to continue as a city, or if another group wants to take over.”

For now, FCSS will administer the program on the city's behalf, until they can find another partner.

“We are optimistic that there are many potential partners in the community,” said Kim Schmidtz, manager for Cold Lake and District FCSS.

The caterer who has been contracted for has agreed to continue providing food for the program; all the city needs to do is figure out how to get meals to their clients. The could hunt for volunteers, contract drivers, or pay the caterer to deliver the meals.

“The only piece that is not funded right now… is the volunteer drivers component. We will end up having to contract that piece out just to make sure that it happens,” CAO Kevin Nagoya said.

Annually, the city provides the seniors' society $6,000 to facilitate the program. That was, however, when volunteers would deliver the meals. Without those volunteers, council is expecting delivery to cost about $2,000, a price they are willing to put forward to continue Meals on Wheels.

Copeland noted he fully supports funding the program and offering the service on a temporary basis to the community.

“We agree that it is a much needed service in our community, and we don't want to see it go by the wayside either. We will certainly do our best to try and find a partner to help us keep this service working well for people,” Schmidtz added.