At least one out of every ten pensioners in Milton Keynes is suffering from malnutrition, shock statistics has revealed.
Now the councillor in charge of health and wellbeing is tackling the problem by bringing down the cost of meals on wheels so more people can afford a square meal every day.
Currently the daily cost of one hot lunch delivered to the door is £5.33 – an amount that would make a dent in most pensions, admits Labour Cabinet member Nigel Long.
Elderly and disabled people are voting with their wallets and shunning the service. At the moment just 196 meals a day are delivered in the city – a drop of more than 60 per cent from ten years ago.
Said Mr Long: “National figures show that 10 per cent of over 65s are affected by malnutrition. In the poorer areas of Milton Keynes I am sure this figure is higher.
“This poor diet is causing major problems, which in turn leads to greater hospital admissions.”
His solution is to join forces with Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council to provide a combined Community Meals Service through existing contractor Apetito.
The increased size of the contract and cross-council partnership will offer more “cost effective” meals on wheels, he said.
“We want older and disabled people to live in their own homes as long as possible. The new Community Meals would aim to keep people independent. It also offers a daily source of personal contact, which is vitally important.”