Town gives grant to Meals on Wheels

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Town of Fort Frances has given a grant of $6,064.97 to the Meals on Wheels program in Fort Frances for the 2021 year. This was approved at the Administration and Finance Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Although Councillors Andrew Hallikas, Douglas Judson and Wendy Brunetta supported approving the grant, they said administration and council have to take a closer look at funding allocated to the program in the future. This is because the Meals on Wheels program in Fort Frances is now being managed by Riverside Health Care.

The actual and forecasted number of meals from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2021 are 5,520 and one meal costs $7.50. The overall yearly budget is about $11,230. There is an anticipated four per cent inflationary increase in food and supply in 2022 and a one per cent labour increase, the financial statement states.

Hallikas said the program benefits a lot of the marginalized and less fortunate residents in town, but said there has to be more in-depth accounting of the funds in the future.

Town treasurer Dawn Galusha said in a report to the committee that the request for ongoing financial support is to aid in the continued success of the Meals on Wheels program.

A document showing two versions of the budget Riverside sent for consideration of the grant funding shows a deficit of $11,000.

Galusha said that in the beginning of the 2021 budget deliberations, they decided to give $5,500 to the Meals on Wheels committee if they were running the program only until the end of June. This amount has been transferred and a refund of $564.97 was received on Oct. 29, 2021, Galusha said.

Judson said everyone around the council table feels strongly about supporting this program. However, he also questioned how the town should be handling grant requests in the future.

“If this program is being subsumed into Riverside, which is a significant public sector organization with a significant budget, I have questions about why we would contribute to this on an ongoing basis in the future,” Judson said.

Judson said he sees funding announcements for the hospital, and added that the organization has acknowledged that they can’t even break out the expense in their budget.

“This is something we have to take a hard look at in the future because this is now an arm of Riverside,” Judson said. “I don’t really know that it makes sense when we’re penny pinching our own pennies to be making this contribution to this at least to the same degree in the future.”

He added that since the town committed to that amount, it should follow through with the $6,064.97 commitment.