A lifeline meals service for pensioners and the disabled has been withdrawn from the north of Scotland after the charity behind it decided not to renew the contract.
The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) has run the meals on wheels initiative since the 1940s but has found it harder to maintain in recent years amid falling numbers.
Today marks the last day of the organisation’s contract in Moray and Argyll and Bute – leaving Dumfries and Galloway as the only region in Scotland it continues to serve.
Despite pulling out from delivering ready-made meals to people’s homes, the charity has insisted it remains committed to providing alternatives in its place.
It is understood that alternative options include providing a supply of servings to a friend or family member to heat up or lunch clubs.
Last night, Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Marc Macrae said the service would be “sorely missed” in Moray.
He said: “What happens next is a worry. I know the numbers have gone down but that doesn’t mean they won’t be missed by those who continue to receive them. It’s a valuable lifeline for a lot of people.
“I know the council has been working with different groups to look at opportunities to ensure that meals are still available for the elderly.”
Meals on wheels began in the 1940s and was rolled out across the country in the aftermath of World War II.
In Moray, the number of meals provided by the service had plummeted in recent years – from 34,000 in 2012 to less than 19,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, the cost of each meal had increased from £3.60 to £4.45.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the RVS said the decision not to seek new contracts in Moray and Argyll and Bute was taken with a “heavy heart”.
She said: “It has become harder for us to continue services due to many other councils choosing not to renew contracts with us.
“Because we have been commissioned in fewer areas it has made it more difficult to run the contracts we do serve in a safe and sustainable way.
“We are continuing to discuss ways to support the older populations in the areas we no longer continue to run meals on wheels.”
A Moray Council spokesman said: “We are working with people who currently receive the service to consider alternative arrangements and the support they may need.”