A large number of members of the community participated in a taste test, today, as part of the City of Ballarat’s Meals on Wheels tender.
Testers, including Meals on Wheels recipients, their families, Meals on Wheels volunteers, other interested community members and members of the media, tasted a range of meals from three unidentified providers, short-listed through a standard tender process.
The taste test is part of the final stages of the procurement process for the provision of Meals on Wheels for the coming financial year.
The City of Ballarat’s delivered meals program, Meals on Wheels, plays a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of some of Ballarat’s most vulnerable residents. It is vital the meals taste good to ensure residents will consume the nutrient-rich food.
Testers tasted and scored three soups, three mains and three desserts on:
- the visual presentation of the meal, and whether the meal matches its description
- the heating instructions, including whether the instructions are user-friendly
- the taste and quality, including smell and texture, and whether participants would choose this meal on a menu.
It was not known which of the short-listed companies supplied it. The short-listed companies will remain confidential throughout the tender process due to commercial in confidence requirements.
Participants will tasted texture-modified food designed to dissolve on the tongue, rather than being swallowed – suitable for recipients with throat-affected illnesses or recovering from throat surgery.
The taste test is an important part of the rigorous tender process, which also examines:
- the nutritional value. Meals must meet a stringent set of nutritional content. For example: a main meal must have the following minimum – 30g of green vegetables, 40g of mixed coloured vegetables, 90g of protein and 40g of starch
- the origin of the ingredients in the meals – with preference for local ingredients. Locally grown ingredients are fresher, healthier and they support local food producers
- whether the food is fresh or frozen – with preference for fresh food
- price per meal – ie, value for money
The tender process also involves site visits to the commercial kitchens of tender applicants for inspection of food safety systems, Occupational Health and Safety standards, and to verify the origin of the food.
This is the second time the City of Ballarat has held this taste test as part of the Meals on Wheels tender process.
The City of Ballarat received a high level of interest in the tender contract for Meals on Wheels since the tender was announced on 21 March, 2019. The City of Ballarat is now following a robust process to evaluate and select a preferred supplier.