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Proposed reconfiguration changes to Community Meals Service

Cabinet Members will next week consider proposed changes to improve the production of the Council’s Community Meals Service.

A report to the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, January 25, proposes a number of operational changes to the Community Meals Service across the County Borough, which will have no affect on the existing levels of provision and present no change for customers – while saving the Council £258,000 a year.

Due to the reduced uptake of the service, fewer meals are now produced at the Council’s three production kitchens (a drop by 29% on weekdays and 66% for weekends over the past five years). As a result, it is proposed that the number of production kitchens is reduced to one – retaining Ynyshir only.

The service will continue to deliver freshly-cooked meals on weekdays, but will deliver frozen meals for the weekend rather than ‘blast chilled’ meals. The provision of frozen meals will enable a greater menu choice for our clients improving the variety on offer.

County Borough Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Catering Services, said: “The Council is proposing a reconfiguration of Community Meals Service production – which would see no changes to existing levels of provision but would make considerable savings for the Council. It would therefore support the Council’s Corporate Plan – to find new cost-effective ways of delivering our services efficiently.

“I’m confident that the proposed changes to Community Meals would not be felt by customers, as this is only a change to the production arrangements. Frozen meals have already been delivered on weekends as a necessary course of action on occasion in the past – and the service received no complaints from customers. The proposed changes would see the Council continue to offer a community-based service that is efficient, effective and represents good value for money.

“The operational changes also include reducing the number of community kitchens to one, with Ynyshir the facility best-placed to serve the whole County Borough going forward.

“That change, if agreed, would result in the kitchen at St George’s Day Centre in Tonyrefail no longer required. St George’s is a former chapel that is in a very poor condition, has low usage and an outstanding backlog and essential maintenance of approximately £578,000. Cabinet have therefore been recommended to consider the future viability of this facility.”

St. George’s Day Centre currently houses a production kitchen which will no longer be used if the Community Meals changes are agreed.

Also taking into consideration the building’s poor quality, the low usage of the Centre and its close proximity to Gilfach Goch Day Centre, where there is a better environment and greater opportunities for social activities, the report recommends that, if the Community Meals changes are agreed, an eight-week public consultation process is undertaken over the permanent closure of St. George’s Day Centre. If agreed, the open access day service would be transferred to Gilfach Goch Day Centre.

The Community Meals Service also provides meals at St. Mair’s Day Centre in Aberdare and Mountain Ash Day Centre. Another proposed change would see the provision for St Mair’s being transferred to Age Connect, a voluntary organisation as part of a community asset transfer, and Mountain Ash transferred to Community Services, which manages catering staff at the five other Day Centres in the County Borough.​​