A voluntary group working with meticulous attention to detail has seen Bedale’s community Meals on Wheels service thrive in the last decade.
Those who had been involved in an “official” service believed a demand still existed in the town when that ended and set up an alternative.
The original operating format lasted several years, but since 2015 it has been based at its current home in Chantry Hall, with all the cooking, deliveries and administration needed to “make it happen” on the three days each week they provide hot meals for residents.
At times, the service is so popular a waiting list develops, but the size of the project - and challenges around getting hot food delivered quickly - means it limit its client list to the low 30s, and while some do not take a meal each of the three days, many do.
While three cooks and their teams of helpers work their magic in the kitchen - providing menus tailored to meet the taste of their clients - there has also been some financial magic at play.
The set charge of £5 per meal has defied inflation throughout the history of the community-based service and is expected to stay at that price for the immediate future, though that may eventually change.
Volunteer delivery drivers have historically declined payment for the miles they cover, but with fuel costs spiking, organisers believe that may have to change.
Frozen charges have been achieved in part because in the early days those subscribing to the service had three free months each year, which has been gradually reduced with only December now qualifying for no charge.
Diane Hosking’s involvement with meals on wheels started in the 1980s when she was a volunteer WRVS driver.
“When they gave up, I thought it couldn’t finish,” she said, and a new system was set up but after three years that arrangement came to an end, with the fully volunteer-operated service replacing it.
Those volunteers have proved to be the making of the current system.
“We have three cooks, for Monday, Wednesday and Friday with teams of kitchen helpers and we cover for each other’s holidays,” she said.
“It works really well and that is down to the volunteers we have got.”