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Meals on Wheels – We are stronger together

Published: 1st November 2022

The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) launched their Meals on Wheels Week with an afternoon tea at the House of Lords yesterday today. The event, hosted by The Baroness Pitkeathley OBE, was designed to highlight the significant impact Meals on Wheels has across our society.

The NACC started campaigning for the provision of meals on wheels week over 25 years ago to raise awareness of the immense value the meal service provides to those who are vulnerable and elderly, enabling them to remain independent in their own homes; keeping them healthy and hydrated with a daily nutritious meal, and providing an essential preventative support mechanism that reduces costly malnutrition related admissions to hospital, that are currently adding an unnecessary strain on the NHS.

Speaking at the event, Baroness Pitkeathley said: “ I am delighted that you are having not just a day but an entire week to celebrate Meals on Wheels. So often these preventative services are the first to be cut which to anyone who takes an interest in social care will know is totally the wrong decision to make.”

Neel Radia, NACC Lead for Meals on Wheels said: “This service represents more than just a meal and should never be underestimated. The service plays a vital role in providing people with nutritional support: essential for health and wellbeing as well as ‘safety’ wellbeing checks and social contact. We should all be striving to assist vulnerable people in remaining well, healthy and happy in their own homes – meals on wheels are vital in helping us to achieve this.”

Heat or Eat – A service under threat
Sadly, over the past 10 years the availability of Meals on Wheels, has come under threat in the UK. In 2019 the NACC reported that over 50% of local authority had shut down these essential services, a casualty of social care funding cuts as it is shamefully not considered to be a statutory service. This level of funding has never recovered.

Neel Radia Comments: “Meals on Wheels week, and raising awareness of its immense value has never been as important as it is today, as we brace ourselves to see even more meals on wheels providers face closure this winter at a time when the country is in a cost-of-living crisis and so many vulnerable and elderly will have to make the soul-destroying decision this winter, on whether to heat their home or eat.”

Bed Blocking:
The NHS and Health and Social Care are suffering a bed-blocking crisis. The NACC believe that one straightforward way to alleviate the situation is to invest in support services including meals on wheels allowing those leaving hospital to return to their own home with the vital support needed.

Sue Cawthray, the National Chair of the NACC, said: “Health and Social Care is in its biggest crisis ever with real staff shortages as we see 165,000 vacancies alone in care and catering staff shortages continue to rise too.

Like so many areas of the social care sector, meals on wheels requires greater government funding to support older and vulnerable people living within our communities.

Malnutrition in older people continues to be on the rise, there are more people malnourished than other health conditions. The Meals on Wheels service supports those at risk, protects the NHS and allows providers to not only deliver a vital meal, but in some case that all important knock at the door or a daily ‘check-in’ which is vital to people’s wellbeing.

We have to be a strong voice not only as an association but we must continue to work with other national organisations within the public sector. Please be assured the NACC will continue to fight the battle to raise the issues we face in care catering with those key decision makers, today and everyday until we make progress and get the result we need. Please do not let the vulnerable in our communities this winter chose whether to heat or eat!

Further events this week include:

VIP on Wheels - Wednesday 2nd November
This popular Meals on Wheels Week activity returns! There’s no better way to convey the value of Meals on Wheels than seeing it in action and the impact it has on service users. VIP on Wheels is a fantastic opportunity to invite local MPs, VIPs and dignitaries to experience a Meals on Wheels delivery and celebrate the service and the immense value it adds to the lives of those receiving it.

International Meals on Wheels Webinar – Thursday 3rd November
Hosted by Neel Radia NACC Meals on Wheels Officer, for the UK and Madison Grech, CNM, Continuing Education Director for CSNM, this international online seminar will include speakers from partners from the UK, Canada and Australia.

During this session, experienced operators from across the globe will be discussing Meals on Wheels Operations. They will share case studies from our own processes and learn from each other.

Click here for further information visit:

Friday Friends – Friday 4th November
A special day is planned to highlight the importance of social eating and how it helps reduce loneliness and social isolation. Friday Friends will bring people in our communities together to share the joy of food and time. This will see lunch clubs, day centres and care homes inviting the local community in for afternoon tea. This simple, small gesture is sure to have an immense impact.

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