Meals on Wheels fears cold shoulder by Govt
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
LISMORE'S Meals on Wheels Service has warned it could be overwhelmed by the region's ageing population if it does not get State Government help with a new expansion plan.
Manager Cathie Eames said the service planned to move its food distribution centre from Lismore Base Hospital to the Goonellabah Community Centre to cope with increased demand.
At present demand on the service was growing at a rate of about 2000 meals a year, and that growth rate was expected to increase as population growth on the Northern Rivers accelerated.
"We need to expand because of the changing demographics of the area over the next 20-30 years," she said. "We already deliver to 180 clients a day and that will be hugely increasing in years to come because, of the people who move to the North Coast, very few ever leave."
Ms Eames said the move was needed to give Meals on Wheels more space before the Lismore Base Hospital upgrade, which would leave them with a third of the room they have now.
"The Northern Rivers Area Health Service has been wonderful providing us with this space for the past 20 years," she said.
"They would never kick us out, but if we have to stay here we won't be able to grow."
However, she said the move would be impossible without significant financial help.
The Lismore City Council voted this week to provide the service with a $50,000 bridging loan, but only if the Department of Ageing, Disability and Homecare would provide the same in grants.
Councillors also moved to write to Minister for Ageing John Della Bosca asking grant applications be processed faster.
A spokesman for Mr Della Bosca said the council should hand over its money immediately instead of waiting for the Government to make the first move.
Ms Eames said she had written to the department on a number of occasions but had yet to receive an official response.