A Houston nonprofit will take over management of the county’s Meals on Wheels program, which will allow the program to double the number of people it serves.
On Tuesday, Galveston County Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement of its home delivered meals program to Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, a Houston-based nonprofit.
The agreement will gradually transfer oversight of the meals program over six months. Interfaith Ministries will take total control of the program in October.
The county will give Interfaith Ministries $368,800 in the next four years to help pay for the expansion of the program. The nonprofit also will apply for a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council that has traditionally been awarded to the county to help fund the program.
The county also will continue to help pay for vehicles and office space at a county building in La Marque.
By giving over management of the program, the county hopes to reduce the nearly 200-person waiting list it has for its program, said Julie Diaz, the county’s director of parks and cultural services.
“They will do the meals for Galveston County; we won’t be doing them any more,” Diaz said. “They’re hopeful they can come in and immediately take people off our waitlist.”
The county has managed the program through its seniors services department since the 1970s, Diaz said. That made the county something of an anachronism, since most Meals on Wheels programs are now managed by nonprofits.
“We’re excited about it,” said Warren Wenner, the director of Meals on Wheels for Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston. “I think there’s ways to save money because we’re holding hands and getting this done.”
Interfaith’s program serves about 4,000 people a day, Wenner said, and has a waiting list of only 10 people. The group is familiar with Galveston County communities, because it already manages a meal program for disabled people.
Meals on Wheels programs, which deliver food to homebound seniors and other people, are threatened by Trump Administration proposals to cut block grants that fund programs around the county.
The Interfaith Ministries program is the largest in the Houston area, Wenner said. It could survive proposed cuts to the program, because its funding comes from a variety of sources and not just federal grants.
But if smaller programs face cuts, the load borne by large programs could increase, Wenner said.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said he was happy to vote for the agreement to hand off the program.
“There’s nothing a government does that can’t be done better by a faith-based nonprofit,” Henry said.