Search
The Caterer

Sodexo apologises over late meals on wheels deliveries

04 October 2012 by
Sodexo apologises over late meals on wheels deliveries

Contract caterer Sodexo has been forced to apologise after hundreds of vulnerable people received cold or late food under a new £6m meals on wheels contract.

In the first two days of the new deal with Essex County Council, which started last week, 350 meals arrived late.

Sodexo won the contract to deliver 1,120 meals a day from previous provider WRVS after it opted not to re-tender following the conclusion of a five-year deal worth £15m.

The Conservative-run county council and Sodexo have both apologised for the problems.

A Sodexo spokesperson said that unfortunately there have been teething problems.

"We did write to residents in September saying that we anticipated that the first week would be challenging as staff adapted to a number of changes. These included brand new vehicles and rounds.

"Sadly, there have been delays to the delivery of meals to residents in some parts of the county and we apologise to those affected and will refund any late meals."

The spokesperson said that the situation has "greatly improved" and that once the new operation has completely bedded down, Sodexo will offer new menus and additional services including cleaning, shopping, ironing and companionship.

Peter Martin, leader of the county council, told the BBC: "One late visit is unacceptable. We apologise for the mistakes and late deliveries that have taken place to date. We are doing everything we can to put this right."

When asked how the quality of the meals on wheels service could be maintained under a contract worth £1m less, he said it was a "different type of contract".

Rather than meals being cooked at base and then taken out, Sodexo uses a method that sees meals cooked en-route in a van-based oven, which means lunches are ready when the drivers arrive.

Martin said that problems with ovens and vans were partly to blame and that quality was more important than contract price for the county council, and in deciding who to award the contract to, the authority had placed 60% of the emphasis on quality and 40% on price.

County council staff are monitoring the situation by going out on the vans, which have reduced in number from 54 to 38.

Hazel Jeffery said when her elderly mother's meals on wheels lunch arrived both cold and late on Tuesday, she was left in tears.

"It was heart breaking," said Jeffery. "To see how upset she was by this episode makes me seethe with frustration. Knowing she has a hot meal at lunchtime is vital for both of us."

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Manzoori-Stamford here.

Tabletalk
Tabletalk
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/tabletalk

Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs

Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs

Blogs on Catererandhotelkeeper.com ](http://www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/blogs) Catch up with more news and gossip on all Caterer's blogs
[E-Newsletters](http://www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/email-newsletters.htm)[ For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our E-newsletters
The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

close

Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.