Exceptional Service by Tea Gardens Meals on Wheels Volunteers during COVID-19

Meals on Wheels stalwart and volunteer, Emilie Tseronis, leads kitchen operations at Tea Gardens / Hawks Nest Meals on Wheels. Volunteer Richard Roe in background.

 

“VERY challenging but the team of management volunteers and staff have stepped up.”

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This is how Emilie Tseronis describes what local Meals on Wheels volunteers are doing in response to the demands posed by COVID-19 in an area with the oldest demographic in Australia.

The demands have been significant.

Daily, the number of main meals has increased from 150 often up to 260.

Weekly, the overall number has increased to around 500, with around 250 desserts
The number of days worked has increased from three to five per week.

There are now around 80 volunteers working to plan, cook and deliver nutritious meals.

Around half of the volunteers work in the kitchen which was built in 1984 and in need of an upgrade.

The kitchen, adjacent to Hawks Nest Library, was never designed to deliver over 20,000 meals which is the total cooked last year.

This year that number will be much higher.

The kitchen volunteers work in shifts of five to help maintain social distancing, uphold food safety procedures, and practice good hand hygiene.

Emilie Tseronis, whose dedication to Meals on Wheels spans 12 years, helps run this exceptional volunteer service.

She told News Of The Area, “Our service is very familiar to the community and relies on volunteers and teamwork to help aged and disabled people stay in and be happy at home with great home cooked meals.”

The menu is updated fortnightly but some favorites, like the Roast Lamb with all the trimmings and baked sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and custard, remain available.

The volunteer delivery drivers do much more than drop off meals to Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens, Buledelah, Pindimar, Karuah and North Arm Cove.

Every Monday and Wednesday they also provide clients much needed social contact and check their wellbeing.
If concerned, they will contact the client’s family, carer, and/or support services.

Peter Roberts explained, “Volunteers are very welcome, subject to a NSW Police clearance check and the completion of work health and safety training.”

Meals on Wheels always needs volunteers, now more than ever.

To volunteer, contact 4997 0701.

To be eligible for the low cost Meals on Wheels, clients need to be registered with My Aged Care and over the age of 65.

Tea Gardens Meals on Wheels can provide assistance for people seeking to register and purchase meals, contact 4997 0800 for support.

 

By Sandra MURRAY & J BOURKE

 

Volunteer Richard Roe complying with strict hygienic food management practices.

 

Volunteer Colleen See sanitizing cooking equipment,

 

Volunteer Peter Roberts informed NOTA that although the kitchen is at capacity and volunteers are always welcome, inducted and trained safely on the job.

 

Kate Williams preparing desserts

 

Kerry Patterson carving the meat.

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