Meals on Wheels Maryborough is in desperate need of volunteer drivers like Dawn and Ken Hoare who also work in the kitchen with chef David Meier (left) and MOW co-ordinator Carly Partridge (2nd from left).
Meals on Wheels Maryborough is in desperate need of volunteer drivers like Dawn and Ken Hoare who also work in the kitchen with chef David Meier (left) and MOW co-ordinator Carly Partridge (2nd from left). Boni Holmes

Maryborough's Meals on Wheels is not shutting down

MARYBOROUGH'S Meals on Wheels was not shutting down.

Rumours have been circulating that the Maryborough facility was shutting down and the service would not be provided any more and disappear all together.

With the changing times and people's habits Meals on Wheels was now in competition with chilled and frozen dinners from companies like Lite and Easy and the supermarkets.

Meals on Wheels Fraser Community president Ray Fleming said there were changes going to occur.

Meals on Wheels offer a three-course meal including soup, mains, dessert and a fruit drink.

"The main changes are all the meals will be prepared in Hervey Bay and transported to the facility in Maryborough," he said.

"The meals will be sorted into runs, as they are now, and delivered accordingly by the Maryborough volunteers."

The Maryborough chef will be employed at the Hervey Bay facility and administrations, client co-ordinator and assistants including kitchen assistant will have their duties changed.

Ray said the only downsizing would be the cleaning area - "we had two part-timers where we will only be needing one".

The meals will be transported under the cook chill method which happens in a lot of areas according to Ray.

"We will provide people who don't have the facilities or can't reheat with a hot meal.

"It will come from Hervey Bay to Maryborough where we will reheat the meal or heat the meal.

"The numbers so far have indicated that there are only two to three people out of all of our clients who can not or do not have a facility to reheat their meals.

"I was a bit surprised that currently about 30 percent of the meals that are delivered in Maryborough now go out chilled to our clients.

"For one reason or another they don't perhaps have their main meal until night time. There is no point sending a hot meal out when they are just going to stick it in the fridge and then reheat it later on.

"Also from a food safety point of view it is a lot easier to keep a meal chilled than it is to keep it hot.

"There is a lot of regulations in terms of the temperature controls and all that sort of thing and delivering hot and chilled meals as well."

 

Lola and Ken Godfrey are dedicated volunteers, delivering fresh meals to clients for Maryborough's Meals on Wheels.
Lola and Ken Godfrey are dedicated volunteers, delivering fresh meals to clients for Maryborough's Meals on Wheels. Boni Holmes

The chilled meals is not a new change within Meal On Wheels and has been implemented around the country for several years.

In 2011, Maryborough Meals on Wheel administration went into liquidation and Hervey Bay took over management.

During a public meeting in 2012, those attending were advised that in time they would centralise the cooking of all the meals of the area.

Fraser Community did not implement the change because they did not have the facilities required.

In 2013, with a million dollar government grant, Hervey Bay built a new facility with glass chillers and glass freezers to bring meal temperatures down as quickly as possible to meet safety food standards.

The meal change will go into effect early April and the clients have been notified of the changes.

Ray said he wasn't aware of any clients cancelling their orders due to changes.

"I wouldn't envisage any cancellations, we are looking after those who cannot reheat meals for whatever reason," he said.

"There is going to be little change in what the people do after they receive their meal.

"Unless we put the prices of meals up further it is more economical to cook all the meals up here and transport them over there.

"The service itself will continue on - it is totally impracticable to run it without having a base in Maryborough with the meals - we just couldn't do it from up here.

"The Maryborough clients are very used to the volunteers in Maryborough delivering their meals.

"One of our mottos is We are more than just a meal."

Hervey Bay was celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and Maryborough's 52nd year of operation.



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