Meals On Wheels Food Costs Increase 63 Percent

Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 2:18:00 AM

Brenton Garen

Volunteer Lars Jensen (left) delivers a meal to a Meals On Wheels West client. The organization is urgently looking for a new meal supplier.
Photo by Brenton Garen
Volunteer Lars Jensen (left) delivers a meal to a Meals On Wheels West client. The organization is urgently looking for a new meal supplier.

For Meals On Wheels West president/CEO RoseMary Regalbuto, the rising cost of food is taking a toll on the local non-profit organization that serves up to 190 Santa Monica clients on its busiest days.

The meal supplier to Meals On Wheels West (MOWW) and other small local Meals On Wheels programs recently announced a 63 percent increase in the cost of the meals and that it will also no longer prepare two meals per day per client.

Regalbuto said the new pricing structure goes into effect July 1 leaving little time to find alternatives or to raise additional funding.

“Prices have gone up,” Regalbuto said. “I can’t expect to get the same bargain that I’ve had since 2008 with my food provider. They just can’t afford to do it anymore at those prices due to increased labor costs, food costs, gas prices, and insurance.”

MOWW’s mission is to deliver two meals per day to keep home bound clients healthy and properly nourished.

Less food at a higher cost threatens the agency’s ability to fulfill its missions.

Regalbuto said nearly 60 percent of the clients already couldn’t afford the daily fee of $6.

“As of June 1, our food provider changed to delivering a hot meal for lunch and a cold snack,” she said. “The snack really isn’t sufficient, so I’ve been going to Costco and buying things to supplement it like granola bars, juice, mixed fruit cups, peanut butter and crackers. We’re looking at the healthier choices and low-fat options. We’ll continue to supplement meals until we find a new food provider.”

MOWW is using this opportunity to find a new food provider who will have a new menu offering ethnic flavors, more variety, and updated choices to meet the needs of the boomer generation.

But Regalbuto said this wasn’t an easy task as MOWW takes care of all special diets.

“We honor their dislikes,” she said. “If they hate green beans, there’s no point bringing green beans because they aren’t going to eat them. I think it’s really important that we honor those special likes and dislikes and we provide all their dietary needs. We have all sorts of diets we cater to: renal diets, puree diets, low fat, low cholesterol, vitamin k, diabetic, and two-gram sodium.”

Meals On Wheels West is a lean agency that relies upon a great deal of volunteer energy and is funded primarily by donations from individuals.

Volunteer Lars Jensen has been delivering meals for just over a year.

“I was happily retired for four years and I was looking for something else to do to get out of the house,” Jensen said. “I decided to volunteer after I received their flier in the mail.”

He said he delivers meals each Monday and Friday.

“The people in the office are extremely nice,” he said. “The clients are very thankful and they are happy. It’s just a nice thing to do.”

The office is located at 1823-A Michigan Ave. in Santa Monica.

For more information on MOWW, call 310.394.5133 or visit

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