The National Association of Care Catering's (NACC) has gained strong support from high-profile public figure for its National Community Meals Week as news hits that another local authority is to close its Meals on Wheels service next year.
Chef Rosemary Shrager, TV personality Esther Rantzen and journalist Rosie Boycott have all voiced their support. Community meals services across the UK are under threat as local authorities come under increasing financial pressure.
National Community Meals Week, which concludes today, set out to highlight the benefits of the community meals service and to demonstrate the role it plays in protecting and enriching the lives of the elderly and vulnerable in the community.
It also aimed to send out the message that closing the service to save money will have negative consequences for the nation's elderly and its communities.
Shrager commented: "There could be up to a third of older people over 85 who rely on the Meals on Wheels service. But whether they are paying or subsidised, without the service many could suffer from malnutrition and would maybe never eat a hot meal.
"About a third of old people rely on good neighbours, friends or family, but for those who don't have that privilege, Meals on Wheels is a life line."
Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, added: "This year, National Community Meals Week is more important than ever and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in getting out the message that Community Meals is a crucial service that simply must be protected.
"It is, however, under threat as Local Authorities see its removal as a good way of saving money. This is a very short-sighted view. What they fail to realise is that although in the short term money may be saved, in the long term poor nutrition, loneliness and isolation will lead to more hospital admissions.
"This will cost the tax payer more money and it won't resolve the issue as the vicious cycle will continue once the person is discharged back home."