The meetings are a step in the right direction, a state spokeswoman said.
WARREN -- Warren's two hospitals and the Ohio Department of Agriculture next month will discuss licensing requirements related to the continued operation of Mobile Meals.
The state earlier this year objected to the long-established arrangement between Mobile Meals, Forum Health Trumbull Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph Health Center for bringing food to Trumbull County's homebound residents.
The arrangement does not comply with state regulations, and the hospitals need to obtain a license through the department's meat inspection division, according to the state.
LeeAnne Mizer, a Department of Agriculture spokeswoman in Columbus, said her department will meet May 11 with St. Joseph representatives and May 18 with those from Forum Health TMH to discuss licensing requirements.
The hospitals, she said, have been receptive. The $50 annual fee for licensing covers items such as inspections for sanitation procedures and proper labeling, she said.
"From our standpoint, we feel like we're moving in the appropriate direction with them to come to some sort of agreement," Mizer said.
The hospitals prepare the food for Mobile Meals for a fee during the course of daily patient meal-making. Meals are delivered weekdays as volunteers take turns driving 350 to 400 meals to more than 200 clients.
Mobile Meals, 280 High St. N.W., is a nonprofit organization with a volunteer staff of about 550 people. Since its inception in November 1970, the organization has provided a hot, ready-to-eat mid-day meal for a fee to anyone in need. Emphasis is placed on seniors in the county who may not otherwise have a nutritious meal.
The state's position is that the hospitals in this instance are essentially a food distributor and therefore need to be licensed and inspected accordingly.