Concern over Meals on Wheels price hikes

BY PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 12:00 10/08/2010

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A 60 per cent increase in the price of Meals on Wheels from $4 to $6.40 will put their mostly elderly consumers under financial pressure, says Age Concern community support worker Helen North.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board is increasing the price of the meals from $4 to $5.20 in October, then a further $1.20 in April.

Health board clinical support manager James Bowyer said this was the first price increase for Meals on Wheels in seven years. The board continued to contribute $5.01 a meal.

Mrs North said while the price of the meals might seem reasonable, some clients were on extremely tight budgets and any cost rise could cause stress that could then trigger illness.

"People can only cut corners so far."

Without the price increase, the shortfall for covering the meals this financial year would have been an unsustainable $150,000, said Mr Bowyer.

One hundred and seventy-six people in Blenheim, Renwick and Picton received the meals, prepared on contract by MediRest, with Red Cross holding the delivery contract.

Red Cross Meals on Wheels co-ordinator Gayle Chambers said that last month, 190 volunteer drivers delivered 2781 hot meals plus puddings in Marlborough. All the money paid by the DHB for deliveries was spent on petrol vouchers for the volunteers, she said.

Mrs North was also concerned Meals on Wheels might not be nutritious enough for someone recovering from illness.

For those who could afford it, other options were available, including a home-cooked type plated meal available from The Quest Catering Company in Picton at $9 and a frozen Easy Meals at $7.50 from the Salvation Army, said Mrs North.

Meals on Wheels is delivered to people who because of age, illness or disability cannot prepare their own meals.

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- The Marlborough Express

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