HAMPSHIRE County Council has extended its meals on wheels scheme to include vulnerable younger adults that have trouble preparing meals.

The new service is due to start on October 1, and will be offered to adults aged 18+ who have difficulty preparing food or managing and maintaining nutrition such as the disabled, those with mental health issues, and people with a history of substance misuse.

The council will invest up to £16.4 million in the new contract that will also continue to provide meals for older Hampshire residents.

The service delivers a two-course hot lunch, with the additional option of afternoon tea. Meals on Wheels drivers are also trained to carry out a wellbeing checks. This ensures that wellbeing and safety concerns are identified and timely action taken. Drivers can report concerns to the relevant council team or call for emergency services.

HCC’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Cllr Liz Fairhurst said: “Meals on Wheels offers a vital lifeline for many residents, in terms of ensuring good nutrition, which is so important for good physical and mental health. Extending the service to younger people is an obvious next step for us as we seek to support all adults to live independently in their communities.

“Sometimes a Meals on Wheels visit is the only social interaction a person may have all day, so the service also plays a valuable role in helping to prevent social isolation.”

On average there are currently 1,770 customers receiving Meals on Wheels in Hampshire from one to seven days a week, and nearly 35,000 lunchtime meals are delivered each month. Over 64 per cent of customers are aged 75 and over, with 36 per cent between 55 and 75. The proportion of those aged 85 and over is expected to increase by almost 30 per cent, to 54,600 people, by 2023.