For over 65 years, Meals on Wheels services have been operating in almost every Australian community, supporting over 100,000 older Australians every year.
Each weekday morning, over 45,000 volunteers arrive bright and early, to cook, prepare or heat nutritious, flavoursome meals, ready to deliver to vulnerable members of the community who cannot cook or shop for themselves.
The heart of the Meals on Wheels purpose is supporting older Australians to live the life they want, by helping them stay well-nourished and socially connected.
It is this essential service that has enabled 74-year old Dennis Reynolds to feel supported while he remains living independently in his home in Camden, New South Wales.
Mr Reynolds says he first started getting Meals on Wheels earlier this year, after undergoing his third surgery to repair five hernias.
“Having had two previously unsuccessful hernia surgeries, I couldn’t cook that much, so my twin brother and I decided I should get Meals on Wheels to help me out… it’s been a tremendous help,” he explains.
After spending a couple of weeks in hospital to recover from surgery, Mr Reynolds said arriving home to a Monday to Friday delivery from Meals on Wheels ensured he felt supported on his journey to improved health and independence.
Mr Reynolds also lost his loving wife of 47 years to cancer in February and says Meals on Wheels has provided him with the peace of mind of ensuring he is eating well, while reducing feelings of loneliness through the daily social and wellbeing check provided by the friendly volunteers at Camden Meals on Wheels.
“I used to do a little bit in the kitchen but my wife was a really good cook and she did all the main cooking,” he explains.
Not having to worry about what to eat for lunch or dinner has allowed Mr Reynolds to instead focus on his recovery.
“I really appreciate the meals I receive. I know I’m getting a decent meal every day and it’s really helping out.”
Mr Reynolds says his brother lives around the corner and although he has friends who live nearby, the Meals on Wheels volunteers have added another layer of valued social connection.
“When I saw my regular delivery volunteer after my operation he said ‘well, you look a lot better now.’”
“They’re nice people to talk to and always very concerned about how you’re going,” he says.
Mr Reynolds says he is very comfortable in his Camden home and is thankful for the Meals on Wheels service, which he says is helping him remain living at home for as long as he can.
“I appreciate the work Meals on Wheels has done for me,” he says.
“I previously volunteered at Apex (similar to Rotary) for over a decade and it makes you realise how much volunteering helps people.”
To find out more and get meals delivered to your door, visit https://mealsonwheels.org.au/