Meals on Wheels celebrates delivering meals for 50 years

Meals on Wheels’ 50th birthday party at Chill ‘n’ Chat café at the Community Village in Coffs Harbour.

MEALS on Wheels Coffs Harbour marked its 50th anniversary with a morning tea and huge cake at the Chill ‘n’ Chat Cafe within the Community Village in Coffs Harbour.

Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan and Coffs Harbour Mayor Paul Amos were in attendance, alongside more than 50 volunteers, recipients and friends of the organisation.

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Some of the more experienced volunteers shared their stories of the early days.

For Margaret Hoschke, President of Meals on Wheels, it was joining as a volunteer 45 years ago that started a ball rolling for her lifetime’s journey with the charity.

“We’ve tailored our meals service to delivering seven frozen meals once a week, which means our clients can cook them when they want them rather than in the old days where they had to be ready to eat a hot delivered meals five days a week – it better meets their needs,” Margaret told News Of The Area.

“It is also a care check-in with our clients, making sure they are OK and observing anything we feel we should tell their family.”

Bronwyn Webber, Meals on Wheels’ Service Manager, shared some of the history of the service she has worked in for 30 years.

“MoW was started in this area in 1972 by a gentleman, Paul Ireland, who was CEO at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital.”

He realized there was a need for a meals service for the elderly.

Paul put a proposal to the board of Directors of the Hospital which they accepted.

He received assistance from the State and Federal governments and after getting a committee together, they started delivering meals on 5 April 1972 in Coffs and Sawtell.

“Over the years our office area became too small and after discussion with Coffs Council in 1992 we were able to extend our office at the Community Village to allow for more freezer and fridge space.

“In 2007 Coffs Coast Meals on Wheels started buying frozen meals from Flagstaff Group in Wollongong and we now have over 80 menu options which clients can choose from and meets our food safety requirements.

“In 2009 our new office was opened – the old office becoming a walk-in freezer.”

The Chill n Chat Café is a community café operated in partnership between Vivo Care and Coffs Coast Meals on Wheels.

“We work to bring younger people with disabilities into the workplace and aim to have a community in which people with disabilities are skilled and valued.”

The Federal Government offered to fund ‘Other Food Services’ for Coffs Coast Meals on Wheels and support services, so in 2004 the Café was opened.

Originally, they opened one day a week and it has now grown to be a very popular meeting place for a range of visitors for morning tea and lunch, five days a week.

Membership of the Café for those aged 65-plus has been up to 3,000, made up from residents across Sawtell, Coffs and Woolgoolga.

“I’m really proud that we are an independent provider and constantly in touch with our clients through our volunteers and newsletters, advertising and Facebook and a familiar voice at the end of the phone,” said Bronwyn.

By Andrea FERRARI

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