EXPLAINER

Local Meals on Wheels takes the cake

Our local Meals on Wheels service is one of about five in the state that deliver hot, freshly-cooked meals daily, using local produce.

With the bad press coming from the Royal Commission into Aged Care and the standard of food served at many facilities, this particular local news is as comforting as a nice Sunday roast.

And yet, according to Lifetime Connect's Meals on Wheels facilitators Sharon Jones and Ashlee Salloum, not many in the Valley are aware of this fact, or indeed, even know the service exists.

"I think there's a real stigma. Many believe you're locked in, it's for old people who can't support themselves anymore, or that it's the first step to giving up," Ashlee said.

We can provide meals for people who are just too busy going out to darts or bridge, those who are health-conscious, or those who simply don't like to cook.

"And you're able to get just one meal delivered per week if you like, which can often give a bit of respite to carers. We're here to work with your life."

Sharon said the main aim of the program is to help keep people in their home for longer.

"One local was constantly being hospitalised, but since starting Meals on Wheels and meeting daily nutritional requirements, has managed to stay out of hospital for up to five weeks," she said.

And for many people in the community, the daily contact with one of the 100 volunteer delivery drivers is one of the only sources of regular human contact they have.

"It's more than just meals, it's a friendly face and some company too," Sharon said.

The service currently cooks for up to 100 locals each week from Valla to Scotts Head and out to Bowraville, with each meal lovingly prepared by staff at the Macksville Ex-Services Club, and delivered by volunteers in time for lunch.

And there's now another reason to rethink Meals on Wheels: Local nutritionist Sam Smith has come on board this year to deliver new seasonal menus.

Each meal has been crafted to include a high range of nutritional, and diabetic-friendly components. Textural properties were also considered with 'softer' items like coconut pumpkin curry or chicken and asparagus mornay crepes, being introduced to aid digestion.

Sam said she's worked hard to introduce some more exotic elements to the menu for those with more adventurous palates - like fish with ginger and lime, or smoked fish kedgeree.

But she's made sure to remain true to those who couldn't do without their shepherd's pie or schnitzel.

So far feedback on the new menus has been mostly positive, with the majority of residents embracing the change. And many are looking forward to the first week of January when the new Summer menu starts.

The service can also be billed though NDIS and home care packages. And subsidised meal vouchers can be provided to encourage people to have a meal out with friends.

More volunteer delivery drivers are always welcomed, with many committed to a two-hour shift per month.

For more info, call Sharon or Ashlee on 6568 2522.

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