Kerry Burgher is a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels. He is hopeful that someone in Hope will take over creating the meals he enjoys delivering. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)

End of the road for Meals on Wheels in Hope

Hope Community Services ends contract but stays optimistic another group will pick up food service

Hope’s Meals on Wheels program may have come to the end of the road.

The program that mainly services seniors has been struggling for the past two years, says Hope Community Services Executive Director Michele Thornhill. Word got out last week, through the volunteer drivers, that Meals on Wheels would be ending in February. But the reasons — and blame — varied.

Thornhill cleared it up through a Facebook post, and by connecting with the Standard.

“The real reason we (Hope Community Services) are ending our contract with Fraser Health is that it’s just been far too difficult to find a meal provider to prepare the meals on a consistent basis,” Thornhill said.

They pay the provider about $5.50 a meal, which is a money-losing venture for restaurants. It’s been particularly hard to find a restaurant to provide the meals through the summer months, she added. They’ve even had to put the program on hiatus in the past for a month here and there.

Thornill is optimistic that another organization will consider taking up the reins and re-starting the program, which is partly funded through Fraser Health.

“We have a good relationship with Fraser Health and they have generously supported other programs we run that are quite successful, so I do want to make it clear that we have no issue with Fraser Health,” she said. “It’s both a funding and a meal provider issue. Another organization may decide to take it on and that would be great for the community.”

In their Facebook post, Hope Community Services wrote “while funding is never adequate for any programs, in this situation the main issue was the lack of a consistent meal provider. Hope Community Services has struggled with this for the past two years and decided it was becoming too difficult and made the decision to terminate the contract.”

They again underlined that they have a good working relationship with Fraser Health, who have “generously supported other programs that are tremendously successful.”

Thornhill says it’s too early to rule out the possibility another organization will come to the table to carry on Meals on Wheels.

“It’s great to know that the community supports the continuation of this program,” she said.

There are currently just three clients that order through Meals and Wheels, but that number has fluctuated between two and five over the last year.

Fraser Health has been contacted by The Hope Standard and has not offered comment yet.


 

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