For three decades, council-owned and operated positive ageing centres Elizabeth House, in Christie Downs, and Wakefield House, in Morphett Vale, have been a safe and welcoming meeting place for members of the community. The friendships fostered through the social activities at the centres are a lifeblood for visitors. Attendees enjoy gathering to share a delicious and wholesome meal, prepared in-house by the healthy eating facilitators using vegetables grown in the centres’ own community gardens.
Sadly, though, both centres were closed to the public in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. An immediate and coordinated effort ensued to deliver meals to the homes of vulnerable and socially isolated residents who normally use the centres, as well as anyone else who is struggling to access food.
The meal deliveries provide a way for staff to stay in touch with many older residents and make sure they are okay, as well as giving them nutritious food.
“From the day we received the news that we would have to close, we set about reassuring the community that we would continue to provide them with a daily meal,” Elizabeth House Centre Coordinator Sophie Lawrence says.
Staff held meal–planning sessions to ensure the food on offer would be enjoyable to eat and bring comfort to people. Elizabeth House offers wholesome one-pot-wonders such as casseroles and stews presented as a generous main meal for $5 per serve, plus a soup available for $2.50. Wakefield House has a meal pack available for $8, including a soup, main meal and a small dessert. And, there’s no extra charge for delivery from either centre. People are welcome to order multiple meal packs to store at home too.
“Our freezers are continuously being topped up,” Sophie says. “In collaboration with the council’s community transport service, we have expanded our reach to offer free delivery of food anywhere within the Onkaparinga region.”
Support from volunteers who chose to continue with their effort in preparing, packing and delivering food has allowed the council staff in the centres to increase their work in feeding the community.
“The food delivery service would not have continued at all if it weren’t for the volunteers,” Sophie says.
Safe social distancing and thorough hand washing and hygiene practices are employed throughout the supply chain, right to the community member’s home where the food is placed at the door for the customer to collect. Cash payments left at the door are collected by gloved hands.
For the past five years, Rudi Ehrich has been enjoying a meal at Elizabeth House. Aged in his 90s, Rudi says the food delivery service has been essential for him. “Most of the food I get now is from Elizabeth House,” Rudi says. “I can’t cook, but the meal they bring me is perfect. The people are very friendly. They’re doing a good job.”
Gardeners at both centres are growing as many winter vegetables as possible to be able to meet an expected increase in demand for meals in the colder months.
Wakefield House Centre Coordinator Verna Saunders says the need for food assistance in the community is vast.
“We are preparing hundreds of meals,” Verna says. “Although Wakefield House is a positive ageing centre, there is no age limit to who we will support. We are delivering food to people younger than 65, including people with disabilities and families. If anyone needs a meal and can’t access food, we are here to support them. If people are under financial stress, we won’t turn them away.”
For details about accessing meals from Elizabeth House phone 8384 5170 or email Sophie.Lawrence@onkaparinga.sa.gov.au
To arrange food delivery from Wakefield House phone 8384 6158 or email Verna.Saunders@onkaparinga.sa.gov.au