Port Pirie Meals on Wheels provides much more than just food

TEAM: Port Pirie Meals on Wheels volunteers Linda Jasper, Rosemarie Jacka, Jan Milhinch, Pat Bradbrook, Anita Kiosoglous, Trish Deer, Andrew Flynn, Bernie Seyfang and Tom Ferme.
TEAM: Port Pirie Meals on Wheels volunteers Linda Jasper, Rosemarie Jacka, Jan Milhinch, Pat Bradbrook, Anita Kiosoglous, Trish Deer, Andrew Flynn, Bernie Seyfang and Tom Ferme.

With the sun still nestled low, content not to fight against the morning chill, a dedicated few move through the quiet streets of Port Pirie.

A small but tight-knit group, the early rise does not deter them from the task at hand. 

Adjustment of fiddly hairnets is the final precaution, before the flicker of stove-top flames mark the beginning of the day.

It is 6am and the Port Pirie Meals on Wheels team begins work to assist those in need.

In the kitchen, lights illuminate busy hands as chatter and laughter fill the room.

Chopping, grating, peeling and slicing their way through meal preparation, a team of nine volunteers work to create over 80 meals each day for residents of Port Pirie and surrounding areas.

For Port Pirie Meals on Wheels volunteer Trish Deer, the organisation meant more than just meals for those in need.

The volunteer of five years began as a kitchen hand before working her way up to cook.

A drive to keep those in need at home and supported in the community kept Trish motivated, but her Meals on Wheels experience extended far beyond the preparation bench of the David Street kitchen.

“If it wasn’t for Meals on Wheel I’m afraid I would have felt very left out because when I moved to Pirie five years ago I knew no one,” Trish said.

“Through Meals on Wheels I’ve got to know a lot of people and feel part of the team, part of a family environment.

“We have a wonderful team. It’s a wonderful environment.

“It’s just a big family.”

As the kitchen heats up with soup, two choices of mains and dessert all in the process of cooking, delivery preparations are finalised across the six routes serviced by delivery drivers.

But stress is nowhere to be seen as volunteers smile and socialise amiably.

“It is one of the most relaxed teams that I have worked with in my life of working,” Trish reflected.

“Everyone welcomes you and you feel like a part of the family here at Meals on Wheels.”

As the meals are individually served, packed and boxed into hygienic temperature-controlled boxes, delivery drivers pick up their round and head for their cars. Each driver understands the positive impact they can make on someone’s day through a smile and a quick chat during the delivery – something which Trish noted as another reason she continued to volunteer.  

She had some simple advice for anyone considering volunteering for Meals on Wheels, who are looking to recruit more volunteers. “Please come, it is a wonderful thing. It is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life,” she said.

This story Dishing up strong support first appeared on The Recorder.