The future of daily hot meal deliveries to Narrabri clients of Meals on Wheels may be in doubt as heavily rising costs impact on its operations.

“There is now a question mark over the future role of Meals on Wheels,” said co-ordinator Donna MacMillan.

“We are determined to continue to offer this vital, subsidised service to housebound and elderly members of our community, but we need support.”

Meals on Wheels has been warned of an impending food preparation cost increase of 60 per cent by their suppliers. This may put receiving daily meals out of reach for some of their clients.

Other costs are also rising steeply.

“Power, food and other costs are going through the roof,” said Mrs MacMillan.

“We are not Teflon coated – we can only take so many hits.

“Our clients have stated that they prefer a hot lunch provided each day, not a frozen meal, but this option comes at increasing cost. Sourcing frozen meals is difficult with closest providers at Tamworth, Dubbo and Bathurst and different prices to purchase from each.

“Then how do we get them to Narrabri with high transport costs?

“We welcome any suggestions – we are desperately trying to provide the meal service our clients want and need at affordable prices but are running out of options.

“The future of Meals on Wheels is very doubtful under these circumstances.

“We desperately need assistance with donations,” said Mrs MacMillan.

“But underwriting that is the urgent need for help from someone in the business community who can assist us in preparing a business plan for the future.

“If we can’t secure these things, Meals on Wheels really has a doubtful future in Narrabri and many people who really need this service would not have access to it.”

Meals on Wheels is a volunteer service that provides more than 11,000 meals each year to its 50 appreciative elderly or housebound clients.

“We never stopped during the pandemic,” added Mrs MacMillan. “Meals on Wheels kept going.

“Our Meals on Wheels volunteers are welcome visitors to our clients, they look out for them and are a valued regular contact.

“Meals on Wheels is a true community service with growing demand – we can’t afford to lose it.”

The issues confronting Meals on Wheels and putting a question mark over its future are twofold.

“We have volunteers, although more are very welcome,” Mrs MacMillan said.

“But what we must secure is more funding to be able to continue in the face of our rising costs and to have a businessperson or other skilled person come forward to help us prepare a business plan and grant submissions.

“We think it is the only way to make us viable and give Meals on Wheels a future.

“We have some wonderful donors who support us, but any contributions from a few dollars to corporate support is very welcome.

“We have just been blessed with great support from The Honda Foundation and Woodley’s, Tamworth, who have organised the donation of a new Meals on Wheels meal delivery vehicle for the year.

“Ultimately, if we can survive the financial pressures we are now under, we would hope that a business plan would provide the basis for MOW to apply for a capital grant to fund our own premises with a kitchen if needed.

“That’s looking to the future, but for now, we need help – we need financial support and that assistance from a skilled person or organisation which can work with us to create a business plan and grant submissions to continue this vital community service.

“We need people with vision to help us – the community cannot afford to lose the Meals on Wheels service, and with some financial help now and business advice, we can hope to survive and then plan for the future.”

People who can help or offer suggestions are urged to contact Meals on Wheels co-ordinator Donna MacMillan, 0427 924 835.

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