ALISON MEIGHAN AWARD WINNERS FOR 2024 ANNOUNCED: WA service and Victorian team leader take out top gong!

Today, Meals on Wheels™ Australia announces the winners of the organisation’s Alison Meighan Awards Program for 2024 with another regional WA service taking out the top gong for the second year running. 

The Chorus Kitchen Meals on Wheels service has been crowned the Service Excellence Award winner, while Peter Ward, who had worked at Frankston City Council in Victoria for 26 years has taken home the Outstanding Contribution Award.

The awards were introduced in May 2022 to honour the late Alison Meighan, a dedicated and passionate Meals on Wheels volunteer and advocate and are generously sponsored by well-known hygiene brand, Glen 20, enabling $5,000 to be awarded to each winning recipient. 

These funds can be used towards a cause aligned with Meals on Wheels. 

Chorus Kitchen produces 6,500 nutritious, fresh meals every month thanks to the generous help of its volunteers (including hand-peeling and slicing the vegetables). The meals are cooked for the community by the community and this generosity extends to its ‘Pay It Forward’ Scheme, made possible through community donations, which provides free meals to people facing financial disadvantage. 

Chorus volunteers visit meal recipients up to four times a week, delivering the meals with a smile, a wave and an invaluable wellbeing check.

Recently the kitchen fielded customer feedback that they wanted more choice rather than a “meal of the day”. They implemented a new system giving customers the opportunity to select from a list of 17 main meals and 10 desserts and soups. They can now receive those meals on the day of their choice which has been well-received and orders have increased since this was introduced in April this year.

Additionally, Chorus have partnered with a local high school where students complete their community service hours by helping prepare and package meals. Chorus also works closely with local seniors centres cooking for their special events and recently partnered with another organisation who were providing work experience to young people living with a disability.

Meals Service Manager, Mandy Waters says winning the Service Excellence Award is a significant achievement for Chorus Kitchen.

“We are proud of the important role that we play in the community, providing essential nutrition and social support to older Australians and those living with a disability,” she says.

“To receive recognition for the hard work and dedication of our team for the work we do gives us motivation to continue making a difference.”

Having known Alison personally and working with her closely for a number of years, Ms Waters holds this acknowledgement close to her heart. Chorus is also the second Western Australian service to win this award for the second year in a row.

“[Winning this award] highlights the high quality of service delivery in our state and demonstrates that we are consistently providing excellent service to our customers. Alison Meighan shared our passion for the Meals on Wheels service and we had a special connection with her at Chorus Kitchen as we assisted in the formation of the Meals on Wheels WA Committee and therefore, worked closely with Alison.”

“We are touched to receive an award in her name,” Ms Waters says. 

Meal services receive minimal funding in Western Australia and therefore, the service will use the majority of the funds to purchase new eskies and other much-needed equipment and will also contribute $1,000 to its ‘Pay It Forward’ program.

Winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award, Team Leader Peter Ward has worked at Frankston City Council for 26 years and although he’s seen many changes during his tenure, one thing that has remained consistent is his ‘can-do attitude’.

Starting at the Council as a Chef in 1987, Peter is regarded by members of his team as a proud leader with a strong commitment and demonstrates his kindness when supporting many staff and volunteers through family and health issues, as well as the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent team member referred to him as “her rock” having been of support to her through her significant health treatment.

Peter has been known to advocate for equipment and resources to improve the Frankstown City Council meals service, always thinking about how to improve work practices and efficiencies and reduce manual handling. Most recently he advocated for an improved pot washer, flatbed trolleys, state-of-the-art oven and upright freezer to enhance the program.

An Allergen Management Plan was introduced in 2022 to complement the Food Safety Plan and Peter implemented this plan to help ensure allergenic clients are provided meals that comply with the customer needs, are correctly labelled and are not contaminated. This has meant that the Council can have confidence in offering Meals on Wheels to clients with allergens who may otherwise have been declined the service.

Last year Peter established Meals on Wheels’ environmental stance by eliminating the use of plastic shopping bags in favour of Compost-A-Pak bags, saving up to 55 bags from landfill per day. Meal packaging has now been switched to a more environmentally sustainable option while maintaining food safety and quality. 

Peter has designed 54 seasonal menus over his years at the Council with delicious and nutritious food that considers the client’s needs. The menus are costed and planned every six months on a rotating schedule, meaning he has developed 13,500 meal options!

Peter says he still cannot believe he was nominated for this award, let alone the winner.

“Whilst this award may have my name on it, for me it’s more about recognition of the team; all of the devoted volunteers that support our service and the dedicated staff that together make that one meal a day special for Frankston clients and also for Frankston Council as a whole who support our service 100% and for giving us the state of art facility that we work in.”

Peter says the prize funds will provide the service with new environmentally friendly esky’s made from recycled materials, a coffee machine for the volunteers and enable him to attend the 2024 Meals on Wheels National Conference in Sydney next year.

“The camaraderie of the team, the seriousness of their contribution that they have freely given, over my 26 years, never ceases to amaze me. I have forged lifelong friendships over those years.”

“Without everyone’s commitment we would not be where we are today,” Peter says.

“These awards celebrate the innovation of so many Meals on Wheels providers and the immense contribution of our volunteers right across the nation,” Chair of Meals on Wheels™ Australia, Paul Sadler says.

“The winners represent the standouts from a strong field of nominations. My congratulations to them both.”

“Glen 20 is a proud partner of Meals on Wheels with the shared purpose of being able to support safer and healthier communities,” Leo Rempe, Category Marketing Manager at Reckitt says.

“The opportunity to support the annual Alison Meighan Awards is a wonderful chance to recognise the incredible work of the many amazing services and volunteers at Meals on Wheels who make a real impact in our community on a daily basis.”

 “Congratulations to the winners and nominees of the awards and their outstanding contribution to Meals on Wheels, their clients and the wider community.”

Meals on Wheels™ Australia sincerely thanks Glen 20 for its valued sponsorship and support of the Alison Meighan Awards.