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A $250,000 program that was meant to supply low-cost meals to seniors in Kings County drew participation from solely 16 seniors, MLAs have been advised within the legislature this week.
The Dennis King authorities introduced the seniors meals pilot program in February 2022. This system was described as a meals safety initiative geared toward seniors within the Kings county area, providing home-delivered meals for $4 in Georgetown, Cardigan, Murray River and Murray Harbour.
However below questioning from each side of the legislature on Nov. 16, Social Growth and Seniors Minister Barb Ramsay conceded the “uptake wasn’t nice” on this system.
“Why was it that you just felt the outcomes weren’t that nice in that program?” Ramsay was by her Summerside colleague, PC MLA Tyler DesRoches, throughout query interval.
“I imagine it was effectively marketed within the space. In truth, we went forward and marketed it a second time about midway via, and the uptake simply didn’t appear to be – I assume it tells me that seniors are taking care of themselves and that they’re capable of get the quantity of meals that they want,” Ramsay mentioned.
The province later confirmed solely 16 seniors signed up for the pilot final spring.
“Why did they connect this to the seniors independence initiative? They hooked up it to the seniors independence initiative which limits your pool down to utterly nothing.”
Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly
This system was supplied to seniors who have been enrolled in a separate program, the seniors independence initiative program, which supplies monetary help to seniors over 65 years. Eligible contributors should have an revenue under a certain quantity.
Talking with SaltWire after query interval on Nov. 17, Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly mentioned it was “incomprehensible” the province had not spent the $250,000 put aside for a meals program for low-income seniors.
He criticized limiting potential recipients to seniors already enrolled within the seniors independence initiative, which requires a method check.
“Why did they connect this to the seniors independence initiative? They hooked up it to the seniors independence initiative which limits your pool down to utterly nothing,” McNeilly.
Islandwide program deliberate
Ramsay advised reporters on Nov. 17 that the remaining quantity from the $250,000 will probably be spent on seniors meals initiatives by the top of March 2024.
Ramsay mentioned she didn’t know the way a lot of the $250,000 has been spent to date. The 16 seniors proceed to obtain meals, she mentioned.
Regardless of the lacklustre uptake of the seniors meals program pilot, she additionally mentioned the province plans to increase it to an Islandwide program.
Nevertheless, the Meals on Wheels non-profit presently delivers meals to about 1,000 seniors in communities all through Prince Edward Island. Many chapters of the group, that are volunteer-run, have been doing so for many years.
Ramsay mentioned Meals on Wheels did take a job in delivering the meals to the 16 seniors within the Kings county communities. The meals have been ready by The Wheelhouse restaurant in Georgetown and the Residence Plate restaurant in Murray River.
When requested whether or not the province’s plans to develop an Islandwide seniors meals program would duplicate the work of Meals on Wheels, Ramsay mentioned they’d not.
“Meals on Wheels – they are not in each group on Prince Edward Island,” Ramsay mentioned.
“That is why we selected the communities that we did as a result of they are not there. So, we would not be duplicating that service.”
When requested once more why so few seniors signed up for the low-cost meal program, Ramsay mentioned her division is presently finishing an evaluation to reply this query.
“Nicely, you already know, we’re attempting to kind that out,” Ramsay mentioned.
“Perhaps they’re able to feed themselves. Our seniors are proud – that is for positive. And I really feel that they most likely simply felt like they have been OK.”
Haley Zavo, provincial co-ordinator of Meals on Wheels, confirmed that the group did have restricted capability to ship meals in Georgetown, Cardigan, Murray River and Murray Harbour, though a chapter does serve meals in Montague. She mentioned the group did associate with the province to ship meals for the province’s pilot in Georgetown and Cardigan.
Zavo mentioned the non-profit continued a separate program after the province’s pilot completed, which ran a group backyard that produced meals for Meals on Wheels shoppers.
She mentioned a small organizing committee has been shaped within the space.
“They’re simply within the remaining phases of making a Meals on Wheels chapter for Georgetown/Cardigan,” Zavo mentioned.
Up to now, Meals on Wheels has labored with the P.E.I. authorities. The group’s provincial affiliation was shaped in 2022 with help from the province.
Zavo mentioned the group simply launched a brand new chapter within the Cornwall area.