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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Meals-on-wheels choice is offered
Roast beef meal
Roast beef may still be on the menu, but it might not arrive hot
Councillors are to give pensioners a choice of frozen or fresh meals-on-wheels, after a meeting in Ceredigion.

One option to provide a frozen food service had been criticised ahead of a meeting on how to save some of the 170,000 annual running costs.

Council leader Keith Evans said: "Choice is the most important thing".

More than 500 elderly and vulnerable people benefit from the service and a pilot scheme had taken place.

Before the compromise was agreed, an option that frozen food delivered weekly or every fortnight could replace daily fresh meals was opposed by Plaid Cymru councillors.

But Help the Aged said it was a good idea if more people benefited.

I prefer my food to be fresh, and I don't know what I'll do if that changes
Mati Davies, 90

Ceredigion Council, which provides 100,000 meals each year, said the current scheme was too costly, and it has had problems finding volunteer helpers.

Mati Davies, 90, from Penparc, near Cardigan, who with her husband Dan has had meals on wheels for about 10 years, said changing to frozen was "not acceptable".

"I prefer my food to be fresh, and I don't know what I'll do if that changes," she said.

Plaid Cymru councillor Penri James earlier urged his colleagues to retain fresh food.

Mr James said frozen meals would not "cater for the needs" of the elderly and vulnerable, and argued that a change would be "a false economy".

Vale of Glamorgan
Merthyr Tydfil
Blaenau Gwent
50% of Carmarthenshire's meals are frozen
Source: Ceredigion Council

He said there was no hope of saving 170,000 because of the need for extra visits by cars to help people re-heat their food.

"It is ridiculous for the county council to abandon a fresh meals policy for elderly people when it is producing similar fresh meals in schools and residential homes on a daily basis," said Mr James.

Iwan Roberts, of Help the Aged, said a frozen meals service was being introduced by councils throughout the country.

"It seems that one reason for this is to help reduce food poisoning because people have been re-heating food in the past," he added.

"We think it's a good idea if more people benefit and it reduces the risk of health problems."

A council spokeswoman said the report suggested five possible options for providing meals to clients in the future.

Tregaron, Llandysul and Lampeter were the areas where the scheme was piloted.

The council said recipients would be assessed before changes to the service were made, and those unable to cope could receive more support.

Councillors agreed on a compromise

Meals on Wheels grind to a halt
23 Apr 07 |  North East/N Isles
Plans for frozen meals on wheels
08 Mar 07 |  Mid Wales
Frozen meals service considered
13 Feb 07 |  Cumbria
Council slammed over frozen meals
08 Feb 06 |  Lancashire

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