The knock on the door would have been familiar, but the face that greeted a handful of Meals On Wheels clients in Toronto last Wednesday came as a welcome surprise.
Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor’s federal member for the Hunter, joined a Morisset and Toronto Meals On Wheels delivery on August 29 for National Meals On Wheels Day.
Mr Fitzgibbon delivered about eight meals during his run with Meals On Wheels volunteers, but as he learned firsthand, a delivery is not simply dropping off food.
“The service offers more than just a meal, as important as that is,” he said. “Meals On Wheels volunteers provide important social interaction for those largely confined to their homes, they check on them, feed them, and make their day more cheery.”
Morisset and Toronto Meals On Wheels has a client base of about 180 to 200 people and 120 volunteers. Mr Fitzgibbon paid tribute to the service, which has been operating for 60 years, and its volunteers.
He said he was impressed by the volunteers’ “enthusiasm and dedication”.
Toni Bull, manager of the Morisset and Toronto Meals On Wheels, said it was nice to show the federal MP its process – from packing the meals to delivering them – and to meet its volunteers and clients.
“Joel stopped to chat with some our clients, which was great,” she said. “He heard how important this service is to them – straight from the horse’s mouth.
“It was a great opportunity for him to meet these clients and see how important that contact is. A lot of our clients are socially isolated. They made it clear to him how they rely on our volunteers to check on them. It isn’t just dropping a meal in. We’re more than just a meal.”
Morisset and Toronto Meals On Wheels is one of 740 branches around Australia that service around 53,000 clients.
“This is a vital service worthy of the strongest support of government,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. “Our seniors are facing increasing cost-of-living pressures and pension payments are not keeping pace. That makes the service more important than ever.”
To access meals, prospective clients must go through the My Aged Care website or phone 1800 200 422. Morisset and Toronto Meals On Wheels is also seeking more volunteers.