The pandemic has been keeping most people indoors more than usual, but for those who can’t leave their homes, the shift has meant fewer volunteers on the streets and a strain on the few still delivering hot meals.
Valmar has been seeking additional delivery volunteers for their meals on wheels program, but Senior Coordinator Debbie Burgess said it has been difficult to find people with even a few hours to spare each week.
“It’s just to deliver meals to clients, vulnerable clients in their homes, to keep them safely at home,” said Mrs Burgess.
For many of the service’s users, the daily meal delivery could be their only visit for the day. Mrs Burgess said it provides a faithful daily check-in and ensures the clients can stay in their own space and stay healthy.
“For the volunteers it’s that sense of giving back to the community, the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping someone that’s vulnerable, a frail aged person, to access nutritious meals,” said Mrs Burgess.
The service stopped delivering hot meals for a time, but with a new system in place they’ve restarted, offering a monthly menu clients can opt in or out of each day, depending on the offerings.
“It works a lot better,” said Mrs Burgess.
The hot menu includes a wide range from roasts to Asian dishes to lasagnas, chicken schnitzels and fish. All hot meals and some of the frozen meals are made at Valmar’s kitchen – Snowy Mountains Catering – the rest of the frozen meals are prepared in Wagga.
Along with delivering meals on wheels, volunteers are also needed to pick up produce from Coles’ Second Bite program, which donates food which can’t be sold (but is still fresh and edible) to local charities.
“We pick up food from Coles on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that we have to bag out and take out to our clients. It saves food going into landfill and wastage,” said Mrs Burgess.
The deliveries and pickups take one to two hours a day and run most days of the week.
For anyone interested in getting back out into the community, a volunteer pack is available at the Valmar Aged Care offices in Russell St.