Meals on Wheels to Drive New Approach to Food Guidelines
8 March 2016 at 10:53 am
The Australian Meals on Wheels Association is preparing to whet the appetites of more than 10 million Australians who use the service each year.
In conjunction with the Smart Foods Centre at the University of Wollongong, the Association, which represents 600 services, is about to embark on a project to establish National Meal Guidelines to replace existing state-based guidelines.
Funded by a grant from the Federal Government, the project will seek to elicit the opinions and expertise of those with first hand experience of delivered and catered meals; everyone from dieticians, chefs, service providers and volunteers.
The project ties in with changes to the former Home and Community Care services, which have become part of the Commonwealth Home Support Program in all states, except Victoria where there will be a staggered introduction.
President of the Australian Meals on Wheels Association (AMOWA) Nelson Mathews said a series of workshops will be held around the country between 21 March and 6 April.
“We really want to talk to as many people as possible in the sector, including consumers, to get their feedback on their meals,” Mathews said.
Questions will be developed based on the information from the workshops and distributed more widely to ensure practical guidelines to help deliver meals that meet both physical and psychological needs.
“If someone has a disability, is recovering from an operation, or simply finds shopping and cooking a burden, good healthy food is more important than ever,” Mathews said.
But he said it was essential that everything from packaging to texture, choice and visual appeal was incorporated in the preparation and delivery of meals, which serve as vital preventative care measures.
Accredited Practising Dietitian and project leader Associate Professor Karen Walton said: “Providing nutritious meals is extremely important, and these guidelines will be underpinned by the latest dietary research.
“However, the appeal and quality of the food is foremost in our minds. We want people to eat, and eat well.”
Mathews said the psychological barrier for some people who believe Meals on Wheels is a sign that they are on “their last legs” has to change.
Expert studies and anecdotal evidence demonstrate that keeping people healthier with a good diet contributes to a better quality of life, greater independence and helps keep them out of hospital and residential aged care facilities.
“Australian meal services are considered some of the best in the world. This project is indicative of our strong commitment and the principles of the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Home Support Program,” Mathews said.
Details of the workshops are available at the new AMOWA website.