FUTURE UNCERTAIN: Jules Delgado, manager of Gympie Meals on Wheels.
FUTURE UNCERTAIN: Jules Delgado, manager of Gympie Meals on Wheels. Renee Albrecht

Meals on shaky Wheels

GYMPIE'S Meals on Wheels is facing an uncertain present and an even more uncertain future, with next month's Federal Budget.

With the federal subsidy around $2.53 per meal, the much loved not-for-profit organisation is already scraping the barrel.

Gympie Meals on Wheels manager Jules Delgado said the funding is vital to provide nutritious meals to people who are able to stay in their own home instead of moving to a care facility.

"As far as we know Queensland Meals on Wheels are lobbying to ensure we don't lose that funding.

"They are doing everything they possibly can.

"The argument Meals on Wheels are putting to government is that to keep people in their home rather than in care saves the government a lot of money.

"Keeping them in their home leads to a lot more savings. It is much more safe and comfortable for them.

"We haven't been told anything much else.”

Ms Delgado said the costs involved in running the day-to-day meant the organisation heavily relies on subsidies and volunteers to keep prices low for people who are often low income earners or pensioners.

Gympie includes around eight volunteers as well as around 15 drivers.

Meals on Wheels works on a loss with each meal, with each meal costing more to make and deliver it than it does to sell it.

"Currently we get $2.53 per meal.

"We charge $10 a meal, for example. It costs us a minimum $14 for us to make.

"That gap is what we do the fundraising for.”

She said they lose roughly $5 a meal, factoring in cheaper and more expensive options, and make about 150-200 meals a day.

"So we will really struggle,” Ms Delgado said.

"If we lost the funding, we just have to reassess how much we charge for a meal.

"We would have to maybe move to including less for people or charging more for individual items.

"We have to work on the hope our government will be humanitarian and compassionate and do the right thing.

"We would like to think the politicians have it in them.

"We were always taught when we your young to respect your elders.”

Ms Delgado said her job is that of a caretaker to a community legacy, and that the funding cuts will leave deep wounds.

"You have to be realistic and look at every possible to cut costs,” She said.

"It is the community's money and I am responsible for managing these staff the best I possibly can.

"It is obviously a community necessity and it is important we stay within the community.

"We access other meals from other companies and there is no way they compare nutritionally with us.

"We are more than just a meal. We actually check in with people. We check if they are okay and we ask how they are.

"We have checked on people and seen they've had a stroke or something and called them an ambulance.

"We are more than just a meal.”

Gympie Times


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