The vendor for Meals on Wheels in Great Bend, Hoisington and Ellinwood will change on Monday, but coordinators said the recipients can still count on the same home-delivered service.
Central Kansas Medical Center has been the only vendor since the program started locally in February 1972. But because CKMC will change to St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center May 1, it will no longer staff a complete kitchen, which is necessary for Meals on Wheels.
The new vendor is Great Bend Regional Hospital.
"We have always had a great working relationship with CKMC and they have worked well with us," said Mary Lou Warren, president of the Meals on Wheels Board of Directors. "There have been many employees through the 39 years and all have been great to work with.
"They have always been responsive to the special needs of the recipients – from soft and pureed foods to likes and dislikes," Warren added. "They also accommodated vegetarians."
Meals on Wheels provides well-balanced, hot meals to those unable to shop and prepare food for themselves.
"We brainstormed about possible vendors and the board decided that Great Bend Regional would be best suited to our purposes," Warren noted. "We need a vendor with access to a dietician and the ability to provide meals when we need them.
"While change is always challenging, we believe Meals on Wheels participants will be well-served by Great Bend Regional," she continued. "And our volunteers, who are the backbone of the program, will remain our greatest asset."
In addition, GBRH Food Service Manager Tammy Payne, who worked with Meals on Wheels for many years, "is excited to once again be serving the elderly of Great Bend and Barton County," Warren added.
Meals are available in Great Bend and Hoisington seven days a week and in Ellinwood five days a week, with frozen meals available to the Ellinwood recipients on the weekends. Those age 60 and older and who are homebound are eligible to receive meals for a donation. Those who are not homebound may receive meals for the full price, and those under 60 may receive meals if they are homebound.
Mark Mingenback, CKMC director of business strategy and marketing, said a change in the vendor is not as important as the program itself.
"Meals on Wheels is all about the recipients," Mingenback said. "This vital program will continue to serve those who need a helping hand throughout our community."
The local Meals on Wheels program was started by Sister Malachy Stockemer and the Retired Teachers organization.
For more information, contact the Meals on Wheels office, 620-792-1833, or Warren, 792-2821.