Meet the people who make Meals on Wheels go round

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Meet Sydney's oldest and longest-serving Meals on Wheels volunteer
Meals on Wheels branch out from 'bangers and mash'
(ABC: Hailey Renault) ABC Radio Brisbane

By

Hailey Renault

Posted

December 04, 2017 07:00:00

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Glad Donnelly delivers hot food to Mitchelton’s Meals on Wheels clients.
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Queensland Meals on Wheels volunteers cook and deliver 10,000 meals a day. “It’s just a great service, the meals are good, the meals are nutritious and the people are just great.”Mr Moody started volunteering to fill his days in retirement. “It’s great and it’s a social thing as well.”Queensland Meals on Wheels state manager David Bannister likes to reinforce the organisation’s catch cry, “More than just a meal”, and it’s a slogan that volunteers at the coal face believe in too.”We actually go into people’s places and give them a meal, face to face, ask how they are and just make sure everything is OK,” Mr Moody said.”There are interviews done regularly as well to make sure recipients are getting what they need, when they need it.”We also have workplace health and safety audits done on their homes to make sure everything is safe for us and for them, so it’s very much more than just a meal.” (ABC: Hailey Renault)
On any given day a cavalry of hairnet-clad volunteers work like a well-oiled machine inside Mitchelton’s Meals on Wheels kitchen.The unassuming brick building, nestled between a youth club and senior’s centre, is a constant hive of activity.A steady stream of cars pull up and volunteers dash inside to collect silver bags filled with the day’s offering.Inside, chef Peter Chaffey helps package meals.On the day the ABC visited, braised sausages with gravy, cream of broccoli soup and plum pudding with custard was on the menu.”We have a wide variety … More than just a mealJanice Taylor struggled to hide her excitement when volunteer Russell Moody knocked on her front door. The 74-year-old retiree lives alone and confessed to sharing a bond with volunteers who deliver her meals. “I found I wasn’t eating properly, I was just making sandwiches and what have you, and no-one should do that,” she said. She welcomed him in like an old family friend, offering him a hot cup of tea and cold water.Mrs Taylor started receiving daily meals from the service after battling pain from a bad back and a hip replacement in 2013. with meals like avocado chicken, steak diane, roast beef, roast pork, fish on a Friday, corned silverside, rissoles, quiche,” Mr Chaffey said.He will prepare up to 100 meals a day depending on demand, and said he wouldn’t be able to do it without help from his regular volunteers.”Words can’t describe what they do here,” he said.”The place can’t run without them.”

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The likes, dislikes and dietary requirements of every client are considered during meal preparation. (ABC: Hailey Renault)
Collectively, kitchens around the state serve up 10,000 meals daily and an estimated 2 million meals every year.The organisation shines its brightest at street level, where around 15,000 volunteers give up their time to go door to door and meet with clients.Glad Donnelly has been at it for 20 years.”I worked with elderly people and I used to see the Meals on Wheels people coming in and I thought, ‘That’s something I’ll do when I stop working’,” she said.”I love it because the people are so lovely.”Mrs Donnelly will see a number of clients in a day, and said it was as much about checking in on people as it was about delivering meals.”I think it’s a wonderful thing and it’s a shame that a lot of the younger people don’t want to assist,” she said.”They think you’ve got to get paid for everything they do, but money is not everything.”As you get older, like me, you realise there’s a lot of things you can do in your life that help other people and, you know, you enjoy it too.”You don’t have to get paid for it.”Kitchen routine down to a fine art

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Peter Chaffey worked as a chef in the aged care industry before joining Meals on Wheels. “I enjoy the company of the recipients, I enjoy the company of the other volunteers,” he said. (ABC: Hailey Renault)
“It’s a way of life for me because if I didn’t have this I would be in a hostel or a unit where I would have someone to cook for me,” she said.”All I have to do really is dust my house and sit back and enjoy the rest of my life; which is a life now, it wasn’t before. Wherever you are in Brisbane, it’s likely someone nearby is lovingly preparing an affordable hot meal for someone else in need.South-east Queensland is home to a vast network of Meals on Wheels kitchens that prepare hundreds of delicious meals for clients, young and old. Photo:
Breakfast presenter Craig Zonca helps Russell Moody deliver a meal to retiree Janice Taylor.
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Brisbane 4000