Country Gentleman Catering will be the new food service contractor for Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels.
The arrangement isn’t designed to be permanent, but to act as a stopgap measure so Meals on Wheels clients don’t see an interruption in their food deliveries.
The program rents kitchen space in the Pasco Senior Center, but that facility is up for sale.
Officials looked for another kitchen to rent but came up empty, said Marcee Woffinden, Meals on Wheels director.
“We are pleased to be working with Country Gentleman Catering and look forward to a successful and positive working relationship,” she said in a statement.
Steve Simmons, who owns Country Gentleman with his wife, added that, “Meals on Wheels is such a necessary service to hundreds of seniors in our community that Shirley and I just could not allow it to be suspended or discontinued if we could help it.”
The local Meals on Wheels is a program of the nonprofit Senior Life Resources Northwest. Last year, it provided 152,131 meals through home delivery or at its seven dining sites around Benton and Franklin counties. Woffinden said numbers continue to swell, especially for home deliveries.
The hope is to build a new commercial kitchen for the program next year on land the nonprofit owns in Richland, she said.
That idea has been in the works for a while as the meals program continued to outgrow the senior center kitchen.
Country Gentleman will take over meals for home delivery May 4 and for the five dining sites in the Tri-Cities.
Meals on Wheels will handle meals at the two outlying dining centers in Prosser and Connell.
The senior center is owned by the city of Pasco. Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel said Monday that no agreement is in place on the sale of the senior center, but he declined to say how close the city is to an agreement.
The city council made finding a smaller senior center one of its goals at its April 2014 retreat, later changing the goal to finding a community center for all ages.
City staff recommended last month that the council consider building a community center on land Pasco owns at the north end of the Gesa Stadium parking lot in west Pasco.
The city last year discussed selling or leasing the existing 22,000-square-foot senior center to the Pasco School District.
Fewer and fewer people have been using the center in recent years.