Meals on Wheels delivering last meal

Alternatives available: Less funding, fewer clients mean seniors’ aid program parked

Cowichan Lake Community Services has announced it is closing the Meals on Wheels program provided to local seniors.

Executive director Carol Blatchford explained the main reason for the closure was due to lack of funding.

“We (always) got our funding from the Ministry of Health and we lost the funding due to lack of clients,” said Blatchford, who also said the funding was “dwindling” in recent times anyway.

“They didn’t cut our funds, we just haven’t been able to get the numbers so we just can’t do it anymore.”

Meals on Wheels provides hot meals to seniors or people with serious medical conditions or injuries, whilst staff who deliver the meals constantly check on the safety of the recipient.

Blatchford said closures of a similar ilk are happening all across British Columbia.

“This is not just Lake Cowichan, this is happening all over the province and the major reason is that programs just don’t have enough clients.”

Seemingly though, Cowichan Lake Community Services has a short-term plan in place for the current small crop of meals clients.

“We have a list of four other agencies that deliver meals so there is an alternative,” said Blatchford. “That could be the reason for the decline. You look at the grocery stores, people can easily buy salads or frozen meals these days. With some of the other agencies too, people can choose what they want to eat, and we can’t do that so that could be another reason.”

Cowichan Lake Community Services chairperson Scott Paro said in a press release that he was “sorry” about the closure.

He stated “the board has been trying very hard to keep this program going over the past two years  but with the continuing decline in funding and decrease in clients, the program is no longer viable.”

Paro said current clients have been given other options. The last day of service will be Dec. 31.

Nevertheless a defiant Blatchford retains hopes of opening a similar program for the lake again one day.

“We would never close the door to anything,” she said. “If this again became a service that was in great need, we at community services would look at it.”

—Ross Armour