Councils forced to switch meals-on-wheels vendors

18 November 2009

18 November 2009 | Allie Anderson

UK local authorities are taking emergency action after the collapse of a major food manufacturer that supplied meals-on-wheels services.

Leeds-based FlowFood and its sister companies Economy Kitchens (Morley) and Laughton Brothers together supplied and delivered ready-made meals to seven local authorities. All three firms ceased trading last week, making 130 staff at its three sites redundant.

Insolvency practice MCR was appointed to handle the administration and a spokesman said: "All local councils were informed last Friday about the changes. All of them have disaster recovery plans in place in the event of something like this happening."

The authorities affected are Gateshead Council, Salford City Council, Staffordshire County Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Milton Keynes Council, St Helens Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Salford City Council told SM it has appointed a temporary supplier to provide meals for 175 residents until January next year, when the situation will be reviewed.

Salford councillor Keith Mann said: "Up to seven days' worth of frozen meals are delivered once a week and residents have been contacted to inform them of a change of supplier and to make sure they have enough food at present. "We have responded as quickly as possible to this situation to ensure that there has not been a shortage of meals to residents."

Staffordshire County Council provides meals-on-wheels to 2,500 people in their homes and in residential care. A spokesman said: "We made arrangements in September to go through another supplier as it was in the best interests of the continuity of the service. That is a permanent measure and will be in place for the duration of the new contract."

Michael Laing, director of adult care and housing for Gateshead Council, said: "We became aware of FlowFood's problems last week, and immediately took steps to identify another supplier.

"As a result, we have commissioned WRVS to supply meals. Our prompt action has ensured there has been no interruption in service, and our 1,880 meals on wheels customers can expect to receive their meals as usual."

The other four councils are yet to respond to SM's request for comment.

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