Today on National Meals on Wheels Day (Wednesday 30 August), the iconic and much-loved meal delivery service, Meals on Wheels, is celebrating 70 years of delivering #morethanjustameal to older Australians.
With the support of ten of thousands of dedicated volunteers, Meals on Wheels not only delivers delicious and nutritious meals to the doors of older Australlians, but also helps combat social isolation – a national health and wellbeing issue among those aged over 65 and a risk factor for poor health and premature death.
Chair of Meals on Wheels™ Australia, Paul Sadler says the 70 year milestone is something to be truly proud of, as well as the many ways that Meals on Wheels supports communities, far beyond delivering food.
“One thing that has remained clear over Meals on Wheels’ 70 years is that the service we provide with the support of committed volunteers, is vital.
“As we learnt from the subsequent Meals on Wheels Social Impact Report, released by Huber Social, the Meals on Wheels model and our volunteers are critical in supporting older people to live well, meet their nutritional needs, their dietary and eating preferences, providing necessary social connection, as well as carrying out lifesaving wellbeing checks at every visit.
“It’s all of this that sets Meals on Wheels apart and makes it such a crucial service for communities and older Australians right across the nation.
“What we do certainly goes beyond delivering a meal to someone’s door.”
Mr Sadler says he is looking forward to raising awareness and supporting Meals on Wheels services across the country during his first National Meals on Wheels Day as Chair of Meals on Wheels™ Australia.
Celebratory events are expected to be held across the country today, as communities, customers, volunteers and Meals on Wheels staff come together to recognise the wonderful work they make possible with Meals on Wheels.
Nicole Ransom – 0411 793 069 [email protected]
State and Territory based contacts – https://mealsonwheels.org.au/contact-us/#state
About Meals on Wheels Australia –
Meals on Wheels has been an iconic and trusted service in Australian communities for more than 65 years, but it wasn’t until 1989 that the national association we now know as Meals on Wheels Australia was born. Today, Meals on Wheels Australia is a vital national association, working alongside its member organisations – as well as peak bodies, providers, and services – across every state and territory. Committed to supporting the wellbeing and interests of older Australians, Meals on Wheels Australia works with these groups and the community to raise awareness and lobby for action around the importance of good nutrition and social connection.
Key statistics –
- Meals on Wheels services have been delivering nutritious meals, social connection and wellbeing checks within Australian communities for 70 years.
- The Meals on Wheels service network has a dedicated workforce around 45,000 strong.
- The majority (65.6%) of customers live on their own.
- The average age of customer research participants was 80-90 years.
- Analysis within the Huber Social Report found that customers who received visits of two minutes or more had 3% higher wellbeing than those whose visits were less than two minutes. Factors related to access to services and life skills also scored significantly higher among those with longer visits.
- The report also reveals that only 20% of Meals on Wheels customers have more than one meaningful social connection per day – leaving the majority of customers averaging less than one social connection per day.
- Social isolation and loneliness can be harmful to both mental and physical health.
- Social isolation and loneliness are considered significant health and wellbeing issues in Australia because of the impact they have on peoples’ lives.
- Living alone and not being in a relationship with a partner are substantial risk factors for both social isolation and loneliness.
- Loneliness has been linked to premature death, poor physical and mental health, and general dissatisfaction with life.
- Social isolation has also been linked to mental illness, emotional distress, suicide, the development of dementia, premature death, poor health behaviours, smoking, physical inactivity, poor sleep, and biological effects, including high blood pressure and poorer immune function. Social isolation is also associated with sustained decreases in feelings of wellbeing and life satisfaction.
- The risk of premature death associated with social isolation and loneliness is similar to the risk of premature death associated with well-known risk factors such as obesity.
- At 30 June 2020, there were an estimated 4.1 million older people (aged 65 and over) living in Australia. Two-thirds lived in Major cities (66%, 2.7 million), nearly Australian Meals on Wheels Association Trading as Meals on Wheels Australia 1 in 4 in Inner regional areas (23%, 0.9 million) and the remaining 11% lived in Outer regional and Remote and very remote areas combined (0.5 million).
- Huber Social is an Australian social impact and wellbeing consultancy group.