Meals on Wheels project back on track

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, July 5, 2014

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Area seniors who are clients of Meals on Wheels could start receiving locally-cooked meals by Jan. 1.

For more than a year, the Wise County Committee on Aging has been trying to work out an agreement to use the kitchen at the Chico Community Center to cook meals for their clients. Meals on Wheels currently uses a vendor that prepares the meals in south Fort Worth before delivering them to Wise County.

The idea was that higher-quality meals could reach local residents more quickly if they were prepared locally.

At Tuesday’s Chico City Council meeting, the group heard an update on where the project stands.

The holdup has not been with the city or the committee, but the vendor the committee has been using to cook the meals. The original plan was to have the vendor come in and cook in Chico – possibly for both Wise and Denton counties.

Chico Mayor J.D. Clark explained why that plan hasn’t worked out.

“Unfortunately, the vendor did not honor their word with how they would operate,” he said. “We were very disappointed with that, and that’s not somebody I’d want to do business with. We still will provide a home for Meals on Wheels but in a different type situation.

“The Wise County Committee on Aging has worked hard to come up with a new game plan to do it themselves rather than rely on a vendor.”

Bobbi Foster, speaking on behalf of the committee’s board of directors, said the plan is now to hire their own cook to prepare the meals. She presented the council with a “worst-case scenario” timeline with a target date of Jan. 1, 2015, to begin serving meals.

Before that can happen, several things must get done. The committee needs to install a new convection oven, have the kitchen inspected, train staff and come up with delivery routes, among other preparations. And as always, they need more volunteers.

Clark said the use of the kitchen for the Meals on Wheels program should have minimal impact on the city. He noted that the kitchen is rarely used during the times it will be needed to prepare senior meals. The agreement, which should be brought for council approval next month, will make sure the committee covers the costs of utilities.

In other business, the council:

  • approved a special-use permit for a septic system for a home in the 500 block of North Hovey.
  • reappointed Karen Garrison as mayor pro-tem.
  • authorized the city secretary to open a bank account for the Texas Community Development Block Grant contract and authorized the mayor, mayor pro-tem, city secretary, assistant city secretary and administrative assistant as signatories for funds.

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