2017 was a great year for us here at Edmonton Meals on Wheels. The more we can provide for clients in need, the better! Remember, we couldn't have done any of this without the help of those in our community. Thank you, Edmonton!
1. One-Time Only Funding from the City of Edmonton
Over the past four years Edmonton Meals on Wheels has experienced tremendous growth in food production, volunteers, complexity in need, and increased administration. Regardless, we’ve moved ahead and introduced new programs, increased our hours of operation, and expanded delivery outside of the Henday so we may serve all Edmontonians in need. These changes were certainly reflective of the needs of our clients and improved our client’s experience.
On December 6, 2017, Executive Director, Liz Tondu, presented to members of City Council the challenges and successes experienced over the past 4 years requesting a one-time investment of $250,000; unanimously Council agreed to help our cause. With this funding comes the opportunity to maintain our reduced meal fees and continue with the newly introduced second tier of meal subsidy, increase staffing to support 2018 Strategic Plan initiatives, and investigate and utilize new technologies to better meet the needs of a changing and growing client and volunteer base. This will have a major effect on the year ahead, as we’ll be better able to serve our clients, and Edmonton’s homebound population. We are excited and grateful that the City has chosen to further support the Edmonton Meals on Wheels mission!
2. Expansion of Chef’s Choice
This past year saw an expansion of our Chef’s Choice Frozen Meal Program to rural parts of Alberta. In 2017, we were happy to add both Swan Hills and Barrhead to the list of communities we serve. Our homemade frozen entrees, soups, and desserts, are available for purchase in both of the listed towns, giving residents the option to have an affordable, healthy, homemade meals. Additionally, our friends at the Information and Volunteer Centre in Sherwood Park expanded the Chef’s Choice frozen meal program in Strathcona County to now also include Provost, and Lamont. Their expansion means that there are now seven communities in Strathcona County (and beyond!) that have access to the Chef’s Choice Frozen Meal Program.
3. Facility Upgrades
Facility upgrades making our building safer for all, were implemented in 2017. Updates included new exterior security lighting, an interior security system, as well as a new fire system and panel. The systems these upgrades replaced were original to the building (1988!) and will help keep our staff, volunteers, building, and company vehicles safe at all hours of the day.
4. Beers & Bands
This past year marked our 2nd annual ‘Beers & Bands.’ Taking place at the Yellowhead Brewing Company, this was our largest fundraising event of the year. The evening featured live music from local musicians, brewery tours, raffles, and a large silent auction table. Over 120 guests attended and over $31,000 was raised – a record number of both attendees and funds raised! All money from this event went towards supporting both the meal subsidy programs, and meal and grocery delivery.
5. New Website
In the fall of 2017 we introduced our new website. This was made possible with the support of ATB Financial, who generously stepped up to fund this project. Although the web address is the same (www.mealsonwheelsedmonton.org), many other changes were made, most notably, the implementation of a mobile friendly design. All changes were made with the end user – clients, volunteers, and donors – in mind. We wanted to ensure a seamless experience was had by all!
6. New Kitchen Staff Position
At the beginning of the year, we created a new part-time staff position in the kitchen to help with volunteer management and quality control. The past four years saw a major increase in the amount of meal items being produced, as well as volunteers helping out. To better manage this growth, we knew that a new kitchen position was needed. The Kitchen Supervisor is there to support improved production and food quality, help manage the kitchen volunteer schedule and ensure all kitchen volunteers have the training and direction needed to be successful in their role. Special thanks to the Board of Directors for addressing the need with agency funding.
7. Increase in Subsidy
This past year we introduced a new level of subsidy to better serve some of our most vulnerable clients. While the price of our hot meals haven’t changed since the 1990’s, we noticed that some of our clients couldn’t afford the small fee, even with the subsidized rate. To help with this, we introduced a second tier of subsidy. With this introduced, we noticed a large increase in the number of our clients on the subsidy program. This increase resulted in a significant jump in the amount of money spent funding the subsidized rate. While we are happy to be serving Edmontonians who clearly need our help, we recognize that more funds must be budgeted to accommodate this growth.