Park House Reduces Food Bill

Park House

Some staff at Park House are unhappy that the budget for food for the residents of the elder care home, Park House, is to be reduced by £5,000 this year.

Figures supplied by the Council show the budget will fall from last year’s £30,840 to an estimated £25,000 this financial year, a reduction of 16%.

Director of Community Services, Penny Penn-Howard, said they underspent on food last year after they found a cheaper supplier. This meant they could reduce the budget for this year.

Penny Penn-Howard at a recent Council meeting

Penny said this shows the Council is working hard to make savings and added that residents and visitors haven’t noticed a reduction in the quality of the food served.

She said the money saved would be invested elsewhere in the Council.

Staff members we spoke with and who didn’t want to be named, are unhappy that budget savings have been made when senior Council officers have had an increase in their basic pay.


16 Responses to Park House Reduces Food Bill

  1. John May 16, 2012 at 6:54 am

    you can get really cheap food from certain suppliers , the packaging is often more nutritious than the contents! Cheap sausages for example contain as little as 32 per cent pork, while even this is likely to be poor-quality, fatty and foreign.
    With cheap sausages, pork fat or lard is added to the mix along with pork rind to raise the claimed meat content.
    There is also a cocktail of chemical preservatives and flavour enhancers. I wouldn’t want my elderly parent to eat cheap food and too soon it’ll be me and you! so, lets look after our old people, instead of cutting back on quality give them some nice grub and a cuddle.

  2. tony May 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    From what I understand this has actually been reported completely wrong. What has actually happened is that the chef at Park House has sourced out a new supplier for the food, namely Bookers. Now this has reduced their bill for food for the year by an “estimated” £5000. They have not had their budget cut by the council, however the chef is trying to spend the tax payers money a little more wisely than it has been in the past

  3. Hecuba May 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Linda, but I thought that the budget has been reduced because they managed to spend less last year? A solution could be to stockpile gruel rations now to protect against gruel-poverty in the years to come.

  4. Linda May 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    As the £5000 reduction in the food bill for the residents of Park House has only just been announced at a Council meeting, doesn’t it follow that the cuts are yet to come? If so, I am not surprised that ‘residents and visitors haven’t noticed a reduction in the quality of the food served.’ Also, everyone knows that food prices are constantly rising. As night follows day, increases in food prices will mean that it will be impossible to maintain the budget at last year’s level or does the Council intend to keep to the budget but provide an inferior diet?

  5. Scilly Sally May 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Perhaps it’s time we focus more on what IS or ISN’T good, rather than what does or doesn’t LOOK good.

    This is the way I see it:

    Let’s hypothetically say that you’ve heard a rumour that your dearest Granny has given your cousin a large chunk of money, even though you know your cousin earns more than you do. You were quite hurt when you heard this, because there have been times when you’ve had to make really difficult sacrifices and were never offered any help by anyone. Well, up until recently, Granny has been of good health and has done her weekly shop all on her own. Lately, however, she’s become increasingly frail and she has asked if you could do her shopping for her and you agree to do it. Since Granny doesn’t own a car, she used to ride the bus and go to ‘Shop Y’ because it’s on the nearest bus route. Each week, she would go armed with her shopping list and regularly spend about £30. Now, when you go to do the shopping for her, she hands over her list and the £30 she knows will cover it. You decide to go to ‘Shop Z’ because it’s where you do your own shopping and you think you can get a better deal. You get everything on Granny’s list for £25. Bargain.

    So what do you do with Granny’s spare £5?

    There’s Option A: You noticed that Granny was getting the shop’s own brand on a few items, so you could get the more expensive name brand items next time (even though she thinks they all taste/work the same and doesn’t find there’s a difference in the quality) and bring her total closer to her original budget of £30 just for the sake of it, or just continue shopping at ‘Shop Y’. She’s budgeted for £30 each week – so she won’t miss those £5 anyway. And, if she’s just going to waste her money by giving it to people who you feel don’t deserve it, the entire budget may as well be spent on her shopping like it always has and she doesn’t need to be any wiser of the saving she could be making.

    There’s also Option B: You hand the £5 savings back to Granny, because you know she’s had her eye on renovations for her home/a more comfortable bed/a trip to the seaside, and you know that this small amount, over a whole year, will add up and she’ll get her funds together a lot sooner. You have trouble deciding to do this, because you know that she’s just parted with a lot of her own money to give to your undeserving cousin.

    With Option A, Granny gets her weekly shopping done, and has a more expensive bottle of Heinz Ketchup to show for it, but not a whole lot else. She’s given her money away, and you don’t see why you should go out of your way to help her save in other places.

    But with Option B, you decide to tell your Granny that you managed to save about 16% on her shopping while handing over her £5. The next week she gives you £25 to do her shopping with, and it’s just the right amount. Granny can now more comfortably budget for her next project. Your cousin also has had their own financial re-shuffling and has given back some money to your Granny to go towards that special thing she needs. Granny still has a cupboard full of food, and now also has that new something extra in her life, too.
    – – – –

    Reducing a budget isn’t intrinsically underhanded or wrong, although I appreciate why one might be suspicious or cautious. I could be proved wrong, but I don’t think there’s anything too suspect going on here with this news story.

  6. Cassandra May 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Personally I would rather see any ‘savings’ made on old people’s food at Park House spent on something else that directly benefits them – either better quality food as Todd says or something else. Even if the claim that the quality and quantity has been maintained is true and whatever political position on the Council is taken I think that one would have to admit that, prima facie, announcing a cut in the amount spent on pensioner’s food so soon after the hoo-ha over pay doesn’t look good.

    • Hecuba May 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      Perhaps they should spend the extra money on a PR officer? Or someone who is in a position to help them navigate the stormy political waters more efficiently…? If so, I know just the person….

  7. Scilly Sally May 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I cannot comment on what the quality of the food at Park House is like, neither from before nor after their switching of suppliers. That is a question for the chef and the residents to respond to. I expect they have an obligation to make sure all residents are fed well. Without doing a thorough investigation of exact numbers, but giving a rough estimation, we’re talking about a difference of just over £1 per person per day – 30-40 pence per meal, (that’s £5000 divided over 52 weeks for 12 residents, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week) that they saved (notice the past tense) by switching suppliers. Now, going by what Penny is quoted as saying in this article, “residents and visitors haven’t noticed a reduction in the quality of the food served” so I can only come to the conclusion that they’ve done the same work for less money. That’s a very ‘easy’ way of releasing £5000 back into the Council’s cash flow – I presume back into Community Services. Spent wisely, I think those £5000 might actually have a bigger impact on improving the quality of life for the residents of Park House, or other elderly in the community, instead of sitting tied up on a balance sheet. Whether it will be spent wisely or not is a whole other question, and a very subjective one at that, and only someone with a crystal ball might guess what the outcome of that one will be. I too would rather that it wasn’t spent lining the silk pockets of the few, but I’m afraid the argument of “they wasted thousands of pounds so we might as well do the same” isn’t sustainable. Every opportunity should be taken to make this Council run efficiently, even if wonderful opportunities haven’t been taken in the past. We must move forward.

  8. Simon May 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Interesting that in the past a criticism of various council departments was that they apply for grants and then work out how to spend it well this is a kind of the reverse they are not grabbing the money and justifying it. they’ve had a sensible budget set, less than last year as it wasnt all spent last year and they will be able to serve up exactly the same food

  9. Todd Stevens May 12, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Penny said “the council is working hard to make savings” -yes but only to pay her and her colleagues more. Has anyone actually bothered to ask the residents if it has affected them or not? I’d rather the elderly had even better quality food, than the officers have thier bank accounts swelling. If I earned £60-100,000 per year I wouldnt know what to do with all the money-especially over here. Why cant these people live on much less like everyone else does and give the elderly a better life..

  10. Scilly Sally May 12, 2012 at 8:02 am

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with the comments on this one thus far. According to the information in this article, Park House isn’t being asked to have a re-think of their spending on food. By switching to a cheaper supplier in the recent past, they managed to save money while providing the same food, so I don’t understand why there is this outcry that food is being taken out of people’s mouths, or that they’re being fed inferior food. I haven’t had a look for myself, but I would guess it’s as normal as ever.

    A memory that has strangely stuck with me since childhood (I must have thought it was as absurd then, too) was a year-end ‘spending spree’ my school teacher “had” to go on, ordering all sorts of craft supplies, notebooks, papers, etc., that she herself claimed would be more than needed for the following year, but if the money wasn’t spent, the budget would be cut.

    It’s unfortunate we can’t just take and spend what we need any longer. If you’re concerned about pay rises for the few, while apparently the greater many suffer, than think about what your outrage on this “issue” implies; there must be an inherent quality in all of us to take more than we need for ourselves, that we should ‘get it while it’s going’. I think this method of doing things can be harmful to the flow of resources around the community – the resources should go where they’re needed in that year, and not on stock-piling for some, while other areas suffer.

  11. Tom D May 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    We have to find the cash for the officers’ pay rises. Why shouldn’t they take the food out of old people’s mouths – they’re worth it!

  12. Todd Stevens May 11, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Who cares!? Penny Penn Howard will be ok. That is assured being as she’s one of those whom received a nice pay rise recently. Cuts in all the right places? “The money is to be invested elsewhere”- you can say that again Penny!!

  13. Hecuba May 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Oh no… Have the funds been diverted to pay for that climbing wall? I thought that someone was getting a bit frivolous when I saw that article! How can the council justify spending money on outdoor play activities when the elderly are being left to eat gruel?!

  14. linda May 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    It is said that the elderly are the last to complain. This reduction will be the start of shaving away at the thin wedge which will, if not challenged result in further cuts. Councillors speak out or once again will the tail wag that dog. Our Senior Citizens deserve the best, not be targeted to save money that goes elsewhere.

  15. Jules May 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I have the perfect solution to this cuisine conundrum. Get the senior officers in to cook for the residents! It doesn’t matter that the two things are funded from different budgets – it would be a great way for the officers to give back to the community. What about a ‘Hygate High Tea’, a ‘Gardner Goulash’ or a ‘Moorwell Meringue’? Dishes could be served and then, after dinner, residents could be served up a storm in a teacup.