Here's everything you need to know about Meals on Wheels from who is eligible to what's involved in volunteering – even a bit about how it all began.
Meals on Wheels began in Britain during the Second World War and was established in Australia in 1952. It's a household name to this generation of Australians and is set to become an even more important service in the future as the population ages and people live longer and wish to maintain their independence.
If you live in the City, Suburbs, Regional town or Coastal village, chances are there will be a service operating in your district. Please click here to find your State and then your local Service.
Meals on Wheels is not means tested and is a service geared to the needs of frail older people, younger people with disabilities and their carers. To find out if you or a relative is eligible click here to find your State and then your local Service and someone can come to meet you and discuss your needs. Potential clients of Meals on Wheels can refer themselves, be referred by a family member, friend, doctor or hospital.
The food provided by Meals on Wheels is nutritionally balanced, tasty and caters to specific dietary needs, cultural preferences and personal tastes. As everybody leads different lives, there is flexibility in delivery options. Some prefer a hot meal delivered in the middle of the day, others like frozen or chilled food that can be heated at a time to suit. Menus are designed to be healthy and varied and our team of chefs and catering companies go out of their way to keep our clients happy.
Every effort is made to keep meals as affordable as possible, particularly as many of our clients are pensioners. The meals are provided at production cost and range in price from $ 4.50 to $12.00. The generosity of our volunteers, who give their time to help cook in the kitchens, drive the cars, and deliver the meals, means we are able to provide a vital service at an economical price.
Although delivery of prepared meals is the basis of the service, Meals on Wheels is so much more. It is more than just a meal. It is also about ensuring people who may not be able to get out and about, enjoy regular social interaction and the comfort of knowing someone will drop by regularly to say hello and see how they are going. Meals on Wheels also provides the opportunity for people to be taken to local centres to share a meal with others or go on outings, with the assistance of volunteers.
As volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation and we depend so heavily on their support, here is a section devoted specifically to questions would-be volunteers may have. Please click here to find your State and then your local Service for more details.
Contact your local Meals on Wheels service by searching on this website under 'Find Us' or click here to find your State and then your local Service for more details. Your Meals on Wheels State body can also give you the relevant phone number.
Your local Meals on Wheels organisation will usually interview you when you offer your help to explain what they expect from you and what you can expect from them. Organisations require references and police checks. These are designed to protect the clients whose homes you will be visiting.
The tasks vary depending on the recruiting organisation and any particular skills you may offer. The typical work of Meals on Wheels field volunteers is the delivery of meals to clients using a volunteer's own car, or acting as a partner to someone else. Most deliveries are done in pairs. Other ways volunteers can help include being on the local management committee, lending a hand with general office duties or assisting with new services such as the breakfast and snack programme.
Depending on the type of volunteering you are doing, anything from an hour a month to one or more full days a week. The choice is yours. Most organisations are happy to take whatever time you can give and this should be discussed at the initial interview.
New volunteers receive an induction at their local Meals on Wheels service and experienced volunteers who have been involved for a while are often happy to share some of their experience and advice.
You will experience the satisfaction of knowing you are providing a vital service to the community. You will make new friends, learn new skills, and probably grow in self-esteem and confidence. There may be some challenging moments, but remember your involvement is brightening others' lives and making a real difference. Many organisations and communities hold social and civic events to recognise the valuable contribution of volunteers.