Meals on Wheels in Waterford

Vickie Kiely about the great work of Meals on Wheels in her home town of Tramore.

As a part of my 30 hours Washington Ireland Program public service I worked with my local Meals on Wheels service in Tramore, County Waterford. I helped to prepare the meals and accompanied the drivers on their delivery routes around the town. Having worked closely with Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, working with the elderly was a completely new change of direction for me. Growing up in Tramore, I was always aware that this service of Meals on Wheels for the elderly existed but I never realised just how much of a fantastic asset this organisation is for the locality of Tramore. Moreover, I never grasped how many people are involved and the commitment which these people give to this organisation.

For those of you who don’t know, Meals on Wheels provides the elderly with one hot meal and desert a day. Although this may seem like a straight forward task, the Meals on Wheels team are often faced with daily challenges. Many of the people who receive Meals on Wheels are diabetics while some have dietary preferences. The amazing chefs and volunteers at the Meals on Wheels centre cater to each person’s individual needs. While most of us are in bed, they are in the kitchen at 7am brewing up a storm and making sure that none of the elderly go hungry. By 11am, all the meals have been prepared and they are loaded into hot boxes to keep them warm until they arrive at the elderly’s doorstep.

Each day requires five voluntary drivers to give up their free time to deliver the meals to each person’s residence. Upon arriving at each house, these drivers collect the empty dishes from the previous day’s lunch and handover a fresh hot meal. The driver always greets them with a smile and I often found that there is usually a little dog waiting at the doorstep just as excited to see you as the elderly person is. At the end of the delivery the dishes are brought back to the kitchen to be sterilised and cleaned. The kitchen is then ready to begin service again at 7am.

Meals on Wheels truly are a great asset to any town and I don’t feel that they get praised highly enough by the media for the great work which they do. Each person who is involved in the organisation is always happy and friendly; this is despite the early morning starts and lack of appreciation which is shown throughout the community towards the organisation. The elderly are often forgotten about in towns around Ireland and Meals on Wheels not only provides them with their main meal of the day but it also provides them with the only company which they might have that day. A small chat about Coronation Street or a little bit of local gossip often can make someone’s day. A big thank you to these often anonymous and unsung heroes in my local community for allowing me to work with them. It has opened my eyes to the meaning of community spirit.