Australian Meals on Wheels Day – tackling malnutrition in older people

Meals on Wheels services around Australia are tackling the challenge of malnutrition in older people. On Australian Meals on Wheels Day 28 August, the organisation launches a new Recipe Resource eBook and calls on the government to double its investment in malnutrition prevention.

Malnutrition is a silent health epidemic facing 40 per cent of older Australians. To address this important issue, Meals on Wheels with the help of The Institute of Culinary Excellence has developed the Recipe Resource eBook.

“We are excited to launch the Recipe Resource eBook as a companion to the Meals on Wheels Australia National Meal Guidelines,” Meals on Wheels Australia president, Sharyn Broer said.

“Each recipe is tailored to the nutritional needs of older Australians and will be a valuable reference for meal services around the country. Tomorrow, across Australia, thousands of Meals on Wheels volunteers will deliver contemporary food choices that are nutritionally balanced and great tasting, using recipes in the Recipe Resource. Sweet potato and carrot soup entrée, a choice of beef and vegetable casserole or oven baked chicken and vegetables, and apple and rhubarb crumble will be on the menu in many locations.”

Each year, more than 100,000 older Australians are supported to eat well by delivered meal programs such as Meals on Wheels. The new recipes developed for the Recipe Resource provide even more variety and nourishment for Meals on Wheels consumers.

“Delivery of nutritious meals, social interaction and a friendly check of a client’s wellbeing by Meals on Wheels volunteers can help people live the lives they choose in the comfort of their own homes, where they are often happiest,” Mrs Broer said.

“Meals on Wheels Australia is calling on the Australian Government to double its investment in meal support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program to make it simpler, fairer and more affordable for older Australians to receive meal services.

“This $80 million additional investment means older Australians would pay only for the cost of the ingredients used in their meals, making payments fair and affordable, regardless of which government funding program they are eligible to access or where they live.”

The Australian Government investment in meal services currently comprises just 3.6 per cent of the $2.4 billion Commonwealth Home Support Program budget. Consumer payments are, on average, one to two times as much as the government funding. This is grossly unfair compared to other service types available under this program, and compared to the same services provided via Home Care Packages and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Increased investment in meal support will reduce demand for more expensive aged care services and relieve pressure on public hospital systems. Most importantly it will improve the quality of life and confidence of more older people to live independently for longer.