By Áilín Quinlan
TWICE a week for the past eight years, a fleet of cars leaves the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre, each vehicle packed with trays full of piping-hot dinners.
The two-course meals – a main course and dessert – are distributed by the centre’s Meals on Wheels volunteers to about 60 people living in the town and its hinterland.
Aged 60 and over, these men and women enjoy the tasty home-cooked menu served up by the centre’s excellent cooks.
Bacon and cabbage is the norm for Mondays says acting older people’s services co-ordinator Amy O’Brien, who reports that this is hugely popular, while on Wednesdays it’s usually a casserole, stews or shepherd’s pie. The food is prepared by a roster of cooks who start work around 9.30am or earlier, in order to have the meals ready for 12.15pm when the fleet of ten volunteer drivers arrive to collect the food and deliver it all over the area.
Clients pay €4 for a dinner: ‘Everything is prepared from scratch – people tell us it’s a very good service and those who get it really value it. It can get a bit pressurised – it’s a lot of food to prepare from scratch in the morning, so some of our cooks choose to come in a little earlier,’ Amy reports.
The service which was pioneered by Dunmanway Geriatric Society more than 40 years ago, she explains, is a crucial one for people who cannot prepare food themselves: ‘Some of our clients would be quite ill or very frail and may not be up to preparing a full dinner for themselves every day. It’s been a great service for the community,’ says Amy, who has just completed a Masters Degree in Community Development at NUI Galway.
As an extension of the Meals on Wheels Service, clients can also participate in a weekly Thursday Social Day, which includes morning tea and scones, a three-course lunch and a programme of activities, all for €10.
The Meals on Wheels service, which is supported to the tune of €28,000 by the HSE, actually costs in the region of €45,000.
The funding shortfall is made up through the meals income and the cost of the social day as well as a programme of fundraising activities, such as exercise classes, crafts or gardening, run by the Centre.
The Centre also runs a special men’s lunch at noon on a Tuesday, costing €5 for dinner, dessert, tea and coffee
• Anybody who wishes to sign up to any of the Meals on Wheels services should contact their public health nurse or the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre at 023-8868110.