Aniela’s Kitchen dropping Meals on Wheels at end of September

Jeanette Johnston, the owner of Aniela’s Kitchen, said the program is not feasible for a business.
Aniela’s Kitchen will make the last Meals on Wheels meal on September 29th. (Aniela’s Kitchen, Facebook)

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Aniela’s Kitchen will no longer provide Meals on Wheels as of September 29th due to the program’s cost.

Jeanette Johnston, the owner of Aniela’s Kitchen, said the program is not feasible for a business.

She had taken over the program in August from NEAT, who had been running the program for less than a year.

Johnston said each client pays $8 per meal, and the cost of packaging is almost $3 per person daily, leaving the business with only $5 to make a meal.

The meal includes a dessert, a salad, a soup and the main meal, leaving her with about $1.25 for each part of the meal.

Even with funding from Northern Health, which she did not receive because no contract was signed, she said it would work out to about $1.67 per meal, based on 40 meals per day and 200 meals per week.

In comparison, she said Chetwynd’s program has meals that cost $10 a day, but only for the main course. Another city charges $5 for soup and a bun.

Another question the owner has received is why she hadn’t gone with reusable packaging.

Prior to day one of the business taking over the Meals on Wheels program, she looked into it and realized it wasn’t feasible.

“Where do we put all these containers? Where do we store all this? And you can’t just get one set. Realistically, we would need three or four sets,” Johnston said.

She notes some clients only get their meals a few days a week, so Aniela’s Kitchen wouldn’t get the containers back right away each time. 

They also thought about if a person didn’t eat everything and the containers were still in their fridge.

“How do you police that? How do you manage that? What kind of a system is it going to be?” Johnston said.

“Is it the driver’s responsibility for them to police and say, well, we gave you three containers, there’s only two here. Logistically, it became a nightmare for us.”

Johnston said the other issue is because Aniela’s Kitchen is a business, not a non-profit, they don’t qualify for provincial or federal grants.

“I fully feel that this would work out in favour of a non-profit organization where they have volunteers they would be able to utilize,” she said.

“If they were to receive grants for the bags, or maybe there’s funding for the gas, for the drivers.”

The logistics behind organizing the program is more work than Johnston thought it would be.

“Cooking the meals, we can do that with our eyes closed,” Johnston said. “But this person doesn’t like onions, and this person can’t have this, and to put that together and to manage those components and make sure that it gets to the right person [is a lot].”

Johnston said she would be willing to help a non-profit organization start the program but said it is not feasible as a business to continue the program. 

For updates on the program until the end of September, visit Aniela’s Kitchen’s Facebook Page.

Northern Health supplies funding for the program but does not manage it. reached out to Northern Health for additional information but did not receive a response in time for publication.


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