Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) and Bairnsdale Regional Health Service (BRHS) will be introducing new chilled meals to their Meals on Wheels clients next week.
“From next Monday, Meals on Wheels recipients will be delivered chilled main meals rather than the old-style heated meals,” said Chris Tipa, Executive Manager of Aged and Disability Services at GLCH. “This change will provide a number of benefits for our clients, one being the flexibility to reheat or freeze their meals and eat them at time that best suits them.”
Up until now, GLCH have been able to keep meals hot using specially designed heating containers from the time it’s cooked and leaves the kitchen at BRHS, to its delivery to clients residing as far away as Lakes Entrance and Raymond Island. However, sometimes this has been at the expense of the apparent freshness of the meals delivered.
“Another reason for changing from heated meals to a chilled meals was our need to enhance food safety and nutritional benefits,” explained Mr Tipa.
The Food Services Department at BRHS have recently installed new equipment that allows them to supply GLCH’s Meals on Wheels program with chilled and frozen meals in brand new packaging, specifically designed to reheat easily and safely in a microwave oven.
“The new meal packaging features a transparent seal so clients can see the meal quality upon arrival,” added Mr Tipa. “Packaging also includes ‘meal specific’ labelling with heating and storage instructions, shelf life and expiry dates; and people who have special dietary requirements will have personalised labelling to avoid the risk of cross contamination or incorrect deliver.”
GLCH and BRHS have tested the new packaging on Meals on Wheels recipient, Will Redebach. Mr Redenbach was pleased with the new, more convenient chilled meal, and was at ease with the new packaging and reheating instructions. Mr Redenbach is grateful for the program and its volunteers. “Having Meals on Wheels has made a real difference to me and I am very grateful to everyone involved in providing it from the kitchen to the volunteers, he said.”
The use of chilled meals is now considered best practice for Meals on Wheels programs, with this method becoming increasingly common in many Victorian municipalities. GLCH and BRHS are delighted to give their clients the flexibility to eat their meals when they are hungry, and the opportunity to order meals that that like to eat from a new menu of chilled options in the coming months.
Helen Gottschalk is a long-time volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program with 25 years under her belt and has seen number of changes to meals. Helen believes clients will embrace the change with time. “Meals on Wheels clients have managed other changes before,” said Helen. “It always works best if clients are properly informed and changes are introduced gradually.”
To find out more about meals on wheels or volunteer opportunities, contact us on 5155 8300.
Pictured above is Meals on Wheels recipient, Mr Will Redenbach of Bairnsdale (seated) is pictured at home with Head Chef, Cameron Penwill (left) and Food Services Manager, Shawne McKenna (right) from Bairnsdale Regional Health Service; and Chris Tipa, Executive Manager of Aged and Disability Services at Gippsland Lakes Community Health.
Mr Will Redenbach (above) demonstrates how simple it is to reheat his new chilled meal in the microwave without punching holes in the new packaging or transferring to another container.
Long-time volunteer, Helen Gottschalk is pictured with GLCH volunteer coordinator, Janet Taylor and the new chilled meals transport containers.