Warrnambool's Meals on Wheels service future is safe

THE future of Warrnambool’s Meals on Wheels service is secure, despite funding shortfalls in other areas across Australia.

Warrnambool City Council’s home support manager Keith Ryan said the service, which supplied about 500 meals a week, was not under any threat.

SAFE: The future of Warrnambool City Council's Meals on Wheels program is not under threat.

SAFE: The future of Warrnambool City Council's Meals on Wheels program is not under threat.

In fact, the council is keen to see more eligible residents take up the service.

“We’re looking to grow all of the services – we’ve got the manpower to take on more clients,” Mr Ryan said.

“We have ongoing guaranteed Commonwealth and state funding.”

Mr Ryan said he believed the city’s service was in a better position than other Meals on Wheels providers thanks to its loyal volunteers.

“We have a very reliable volunteer base,” he said.

“Meals on Wheels in Warrnambool wouldn’t survive without the volunteers.”

Mr Ryan said the service was extremely important because it not only provided a nutritious meal to clients, it gave them the chance to remain in their homes for longer.

“We’re looking to ensure people can remain and live independently in their own homes because that’s where they want to be,” he said.

“Families have the confidence that someone is checking in on mum and dad or their grandparents.”

Mr Ryan said the city’s service delivered about 500 meals a week to clients.

“We deliver – on average – about 25,000 meals a year,” he said.

Mr Ryan said there was further good news for users of the city council’s Meals on Wheels service.

There will be no price hike this year – with the cost of a three-course meal remaining unchanged at $11.40 in 2017.

Mr Ryan’s comments come as Australian Meals on Wheels president Nelson Mathews called on the federal government to provide more funding.

He said without the federal government providing a $5 million funding increase, the cost of meals for consumers could rise. 

“You can use all the statistics and facts you want but the bottom line is there are cost pressures on services,” he said. “We don't want fees to go up any more than they are because an elderly pensioner is sometimes spending 10 per cent of their pension on meals and that's enough.”

Mr Mathews described Meals on Wheels as a “preventative health service” and called on the government to put more money towards it.

“What we're saying is put a little bit of money here and we will save money (through lower hospital admissions),” he said.  

Mr Mathews said the cost of providing meals for one person for a year was equivalent to keeping someone in hospital for one day.