The City of Ballarat has made some proactive changes to its essential Meals on Wheels service due to the COVID-19 crisis.
There are now two Meals on Wheels locations across Ballarat, including the current Mair Street site and the Eureka Centre’s commercial kitchen facilities.
City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Ben Taylor said the service was split evenly across the two sites to ensure if one venue was compromised by COVID-19, the other site could continue to operate.
An extra 1000 meals have been sourced from the current provider, Hearty Health, due to a recent rapid service demand rise.
An extra 40 new drivers, mainly staff affected by the Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre closure, are also temporarily replacing the Meals on Wheels volunteers, many of whom are taking a well-earned break to look after their own health as we ask people to continue to stay home where they can.
“These drivers have been inducted, trained and then making deliveries according to our strict COVID-19 Meals on Wheels protocols,” Cr Taylor said.
Cr Taylor said these protocols include drivers only travelling one to a car, instead of the former ‘driver and jockey’ set-up.
Drivers also do not get out of their vehicles when they are picking up the meals, instead meals are loaded into the car boots by Meals on Wheels staff.
Cr Taylor said the drivers also no longer enter homes to deliver the meals but instead recipients have been asked to place a small table or chair at the front door for the meal to be left on.
The driver sets down the meal, then knocks on the door, steps back, waits for the recipient to answer and then does a quick welfare check and chat before returning to their vehicle.
“Meals on Wheels is an essential service as it specifically caters to some of the most vulnerable in our community,’ Cr Taylor said.
“We wanted to ensure we still maintained our valuable levels of care and engagement throughout this critical time.
“We have reacted quickly and adapted our way of delivering meals, so it is contactless while still allowing us to provide the service to even more Ballarat residents.
“This also allows us to carry out the welfare checks and social interactions that are such a vital part of the service as well.”