For the 900 seniors and disabled residents in Wichita who depend on Meals on Wheels, Wednesday’s lunch will be hot and fresh.
That’s good news after an electrical fire Nov. 22 shut down the kitchens at Senior Services Inc. of Wichita. Since then, those depending on the Meals on Wheels program have received frozen and shelf-stable meals.
“It’s been a challenge for us, but we are pleased to say that our service was not interrupted at all,” said Chris Heiman, development director for Senior Services.
For the past two weeks, staff members at Senior Services have been trying to find kitchens large enough to prepare 900 meals at once and that had adequate space and proper licensing. They have found a temporary kitchen at Premier Catering, 10109 W. York, southwest of Mid-Continent Airport.
“The service remained uninterrupted, but the process we had to go through to make it happen was a real challenge,” Heiman said.
The new location also means Meals on Wheels will need more volunteers to deliver the meals. Because the new location is farther west than the old kitchen, arrangements are being made to drop off multiple routes to an east-side location for volunteers in east Wichita.
Typically at this time of year, there is a drop in the number of volunteers, according to a news release sent out by Meals on Wheels. Volunteers use this time to take vacations or are discouraged from volunteering because of bad weather.
People wanting to volunteer are encouraged to call 316-267-0122.
The fire Nov. 22 caused an estimated $200,000 in damages, Heiman said. It is expected it will take two to three months to clean, repair and rebuild from the fire.
“We are looking at replacing an entire electrical system,” she said.
Meals on Wheels will be able to use some of the equipment from the Senor Services kitchens, such as the warming ovens, once that equipment is moved to Premier Catering.
The fire also temporarily halted many activities normally held at the center. Heiman estimates 30 to 50 activities have been postponed or are suspended until Senior Services, 200 S. Walnut, is reopened.
Heiman said that half the space at Premiere Catering can be used by Meals on Wheels and should not affect use by the catering company.