In homes across Beaudesert and surrounding districts, people like Reg Ardrey appreciate their regular Meals on Wheels delivery.
Mr Ardrey, 92, received the milestone 250,000th meal from volunteers Rick Wilson and Linda Street on 21 September, as the local Meals on Wheels gears up to celebrate 40 years.
He has been a client for about six years and says the meals are ‘fabulous – you don’t leave any on your plate’ – and he particularly loves the battered fish with wedges.
The standard package includes soup, a main meal, dessert, snack and juice. Meals are delivered three times a week, with volunteers and clients alike experiencing positive social interactions through the service.
In just under 40 years, Beaudesert and District Meals on Wheels has grown from humble beginnings of eight clients receiving a total 24 meals a week, to an average of more than 80 clients receiving about 250 meals a week.
Patron and Life Member John Bartlett OAM was among locals who started it in 1982 alongside inaugural President Ian Telfer, Vice President Joy Sheil (who later became famed Beaudesert Mayor Joy Drescher), Secretary Meg Cloonan, Treasurer Tony Hall and Committee Joan Urquhart, Ann Harrison, Esther Holcombe, Jim Ferguson and Syd Callanan.
Mr Bartlett himself served as President for 36 years.
The first eight meals were prepared and delivered from the kitchen at Beaudesert Showgrounds on 25 October 1982. The arrangement continued for almost 21 years until 30 June 2003, and during that time the service supplied about 132,000 meals.
That kitchen did not meet new National Food Standards introduced in 2000 and an expensive upgrade was required, so a decision was made to start buying meals from Wongaburra.
This went from July 2003 to October 2020, when conditions imposed on nursing homes due to Covid make it hard for the arrangement to continue.
In those 17 years, Meals on Wheels purchased about 94,000 meals and expanded to clients on Tamborine Mountain in October 2008, and then also Koorablyn, Canungra, Mundoolun, Tamborine, Rathdowney, Gleneagle, Veresdale and Tabooba.
Since November 2020, Beaudesert Meals on Wheels has sourced its fresh and frozen meals from Gourmet Meals on the Gold Coast, delivering more than 24,000 meals in that time.
Mr Bartlett said the outbreak of Covid resulted in more people taking advantage of Meals on Wheels, and overall satisfaction with the meals led to more new clients.
President Barb Ware-Crawford applauded the work of everyone involved, particularly recognising Mr Bartlett’s contributions since the group started.