TWO local catering micro-businesses have stepped up to the mark to provide hot meals for older people in Reading at Cedar Court, Oak Tree House and the Maples.
Following the expiry of the previous catering contract serving these locations, the Council took the opportunity to look at new options.
Reading Council has supported a small new local enterprise, run by experienced chef Cornelius Finch, to launch a seven days a week hot meal service.
‘Constant Catering Services’ provides meals for older people living and visiting at Cedar Court Extra Care Housing in south Reading and the Maples Day Service based at Rivermead. The caterer works from the kitchens in Cedar Court and transports food to the Rivermead site.
Cornelius has been the head chef at Cedar Court for the past two years, working for the previous catering contractor, White Oaks (part of Compass Group UK), before taking the leap to start his own business. He has retained a member of staff who has moved across to join the new team.
Cornelius said: “I have been in the catering business for over 20 years and I’m delighted to have the opportunity of providing the meal service for Cedar Court and the Maples. Healthy Eating is very important and Constant Catering Services provide freshly prepared hot meals on a daily basis to the residents which is highly valued and makes a real difference to people’s lives.”
He added: “Small businesses like Constant Catering Services have a huge amount to offer the local community. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from Reading Council officers in getting my micro-business off to a good start and look forward to the future.”
To ensure any new services introduced are tailored to people’s needs, the Council launched a 12 week consultation in October 2017. The Council listened to the feedback it received and used it to help shape the innovative new service launched the beginning of this month.
Oak Tree House Extra Care Housing, run by Catalyst Housing Association, has also sourced a new micro-business to continue to provide a hot meal service at this location, available six days a week, with pre-ordered cold meal options for Saturdays.
Rachel Eden, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Adult Social Care, said: “The expiry of the previous catering contract offered us a real opportunity to look again at how meals were provided, and design an innovative service which is sustainable and does more than just provide a hot meal for people who need it. The changes have also given a fantastic boost to two small start-up businesses.
“Residents wanted the restaurants to remain open, to continue to provide a freshly prepared hot meal alongside the opportunity to socialise. At the Maples Day Service, people were also keen to still access a hot meal. Whilst the Council has no duty to ensure hot meals are available I believe it is important provide hot meals, as it contributes to people’s wellbeing and combating social isolation.
“I’m delighted that by working with people and their families as well as a small business, we have found a way to combine the meals service with opportunities for people to get-together and share regular meals at affordable prices.”
Notes to editors
Photo: A photo of Cllr Rachel Eden with chef Cornelius Finch at Cedar Court can be downloaded from the News Flickr site at https://flic.kr/s/aHsky8WTZB