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Nation celebrates the people behind the meals that make a difference

The ongoing dedication and efforts of more than 76,000 Meals on Wheels volunteers are being celebrated across the nation today (29 August) as part of National Meals on Wheels Day.

Meals on Wheels volunteers delivering a delicious meal to a client (Source: Meals on Wheels Australia)
Meals on Wheels volunteers delivering a delicious meal to a client (Source: Meals on Wheels Australia)

As well as celebrating the good work that the many past and present volunteers have done and continue to do, this year the event is also celebrating 65 years of the community service.

Australian Meals on Wheels Association (AMOWA) President Sharyn Broer highlights that the support provided by the more than 600 grass roots organisations that make up the national Meals on Wheels network make a real difference in improving health outcomes while reducing health and aged care costs.

She adds that as well as delivering tasty and nourishing meals that are designed to meet the nutritional needs of older people, Meals on Wheels volunteers bring a daily dose of companionship and human connection, and peace of mind for clients and their families.

“Our amazing and inspiring volunteers are the backbone of Meals on Wheels,” Mrs Broer says.

“They form part of a caring community that is one of the most gratifying volunteer programs in the world.

“Our production kitchens are fun and friendly places to work, where you can get to know other people from the local area, share skills and expertise and learn new ones.

“Our delivery teams love meeting, sharing stories and forming bonds with the people they visit… brightening someone else’s day brightens their day too.”

90 year old Pamela Pope from South Australia is one of the 120,000 people across the nation who need a little bit of support and access the services offered by Meals on Wheels, but, she is also a former volunteer too.

Ms Pope says she used to deliver Meals on Wheels out of one of the first Adelaide kitchens in Hindmarsh in the 1970s, while her five children were in primary school.

She says that even back then her clients would always tell her how appreciative they were, and she is now experiencing that for herself.

"Meals on Wheels is a tremendous help since my accident as I now find it hard to stand up to prepare meals,” Ms Pope says.

“The meals this year have been even better than previous years and there is a great assortment to choose from.

“It's very nice to have someone call in when you live on your own as it breaks up the monotony of the morning. They always come with a cheery smile and a joke."

Fellow South Australian carer Bev Stopford also commends the service for the support it offered her elderly mother when she was receiving palliative care services at home a few years ago.

“Both mum and I found the people who delivered the meals very friendly,” Ms Stopford says.

“The portions were a good size and mum was never left hungry - it’s a great service to have for those who need it for either a short time, like my mum, or longer term.”

Mrs Broer acknowledges that while many Australians appreciate the meal delivery service, like Ms Pope and Ms Stopford, many still underestimate the value it provides.

“Today, on National Meals on Wheels Day, we are appealing for more volunteers to join our teams across Australia,” she says.

“If you have a few hours to spare to deliver meals or lend a helping hand in our kitchens, and make a huge impact in your community, we would love to hear from you.

“And if you can’t donate time, consider donating a few dollars to help keep our wheels turning.”

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