A recent shift in local Meals on Wheels operations has improved the service greatly, both from the standpoint of the clients and also that of those who are at the helm, officials say.
The service was previously stationed at a satellite location inside the St. Albert Senior Citizens’ Club on TachĂ© Street. Program organizers would arrange for pickup of fresh and frozen meals from the main depot in Edmonton with additional salads to be put together by the club’s staff members.
Even with a modest client list, staff found that it became burdensome due to limited kitchen space and other factors like the lack of refrigeration capacity and food service workers at the facility.
“Even just transportation into Edmonton and back to pick up the meals every single day was getting to be a bit much,” explained Tara Rodrique, Meals on Wheels co-ordinator at the seniors’ club.
With the desire to provide a better product and improved service for clients and workers, the seniors’ club worked out a deal with the River Ridge Seniors’ Community on McKenney Avenue. Since the first week of March, the fresh meals have been prepared by River Ridge’s larger staff of three cooks and five servers. A plan is now in the works to also have the frozen meals prepared there.
The arrangement, originally intended just to improve logistical circumstances, has proved to be a major benefit for the customers of the program. In the two months since the shift, there has been a noticeable improvement in the quality of the food.
“They said the quality is better. It’s been very positive,” Rodrique said.
Everybody seems to be happier with this one shift in detail. All other aspects of the Meals on Wheels service have remained the same including the price at $6.50 per meal. The added duty has even been a boost to morale at River Ridge.
The company has a philosophy of community involvement and this fits right in, said site manager Kerri Labrash. River Ridge is happy to play a role and they have been able to accommodate the extra duties with just a simple scheduling modification that hasn’t put too much extra stress on the kitchen workers, she said.
“It’s more intense but we’re managing,” stated Monika Paterson, River Ridge’s team lead chef.
Labrash added it also makes a lot of sense from the food prep standpoint, since they often have extra meals remaining from the facility’s in-house dining service.
This is mostly considered to be a long-term temporary arrangement. The seniors’ club is striving for funding to construct a new facility.
“Perhaps in the future when we do have our new building, we’ll do it right on site,” Rodrique said.
For more information or to join the program, call Rodrique at 780-459-0433.