THE search is on for a new Meals on Wheels provider for people across the Gazette area after the current contractor announced it would be axing its service this year.
Older people’s charity the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) has called time on the scheme, having served notice on its contract with West Sussex County Council.
Currently, the charity – which has a base in Broadmark Lane, Rustington – delivers around 4,400 fresh meals over seven days, every week, to older and housebound residents.
The move has been described as an extremely disappointing one by leading county councillors.
Responding, the RVS’s chief executive David McCullough said: “Together with West Sussex County Council, the charity pioneered a new service because we wanted to offer the county’s older residents the best possible service; good-quality food, delivered, plated and served by people who care.
“We very much regret having to make this decision, but the operational reality of providing this service with the funds available, means the charity is losing significant amounts of money every day.
“Unfortunately, therefore, it isn’t sustainable to continue on this basis.
“Alternatives have been explored and it has been agreed that a different solution is required.”
He added the well-being of older people in Sussex remained a priority and that the charity would be working alongside the council to ensure a smooth transition to a new Meals on Wheels provider.
It is hoped the county council will be able to find a new provider before the current contract terminates in October.
Peter Catchpole, county council cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “We are extremely disappointed that our Meals on Wheels association with the Royal Voluntary Service will end this year.
“We wanted our residents to receive the best possible provision at an affordable price and we believed the innovative and improved service proposed by the RVS during the tender process in 2013 offered just that.
“We were keen to ensure the success of the contract and have worked closely with the charity to try to make it work. However, it is with regret that despite this assistance, the RVS has come to the decision that they cannot continue to deliver the Meals on Wheels service and have given us notice to end the current contract later this year.”