Our History

1970 - 74

Kiama Meals on Wheels came about from a discussion between three neighbours about how they could supply meals to folk in Kiama who were unable to prepare their own.
On 2nd July, 1970, the inaugural meeting of 25 ladies was chaired by Mr Flint, Chairman of the Hospital Board. The first executive members were the three neighbours, Mrs Bones (President), Mrs Witheridge (Secretary) and Mrs Cardwell (Treasurer).
The first meals were delivered on 7th September 1970. Eight people received meals the week the service began. The meals came from Kiama Hospital and were hearty, wholesome country style meals.
In the early years the body which was our mentor was COTA – The Council of the Ageing. 
It was through this body that insurance was purchased.

1975 - 79

In this era the Guides, rangers, Lions Club and local council were all involved in the running of the operation.  The Lions Club donated a delivery van. 
The cost of meals rose several times in the first 10 years.  By the end of 1979 the meals cost 65c from the hospital and the clients were paying 70c. The meals available for delivery each day rose to 25.
During this period of time the tradition of giving something extra to our clients began. The clients were to receive a treat once a month.  The first month it was two pieces of apple slice and the second month it was two slices of sultana cake.  This practice of gifting something extra to our clients has continued on to today, for special days such as Easter, Christmas and birthdays.

1980 - 84

1980 saw moves for the government to officially run Meals on Wheels services.  A Kiama meeting agreed with other services and voted against this. Thus, a state committee for Meals on Wheels services was formed.  It began as more of an advisory body for COTA and did not stand alone as the NSW Meals on Wheels Association until the late 1980’s.
During this period, Kiama Meals on Wheels engaged in fundraising activities and also helped out other branches that were struggling financially, for example Lightning Ridge.

1985 – 89

The price of the meals from the hospital was now $1.10.  When food prices rose the quality of the meals gradually deteriorated as the hospital had to function on a limited budget. The hospital was supplying 40 meals but we still needed more. The demand along with the deterioration of the meals meant the Committee had to look for other alternatives.  The most popular idea was to set up our own kitchen, however, due to a restricted budget and lack of land this idea was rejected.
HACC Funding was a new expression the Committee had to learn about. 
The Leagues Club offered to prepare and deliver Sunday Meals to those clients that needed them.  This service continued for 10 years until frozen meals became available.

1990 – 94

In 1990, the Certificate of Incorporation was sought and received.
Kiama Meals on Wheels service was chosen to receive a Premiers Award in 1991.
During this time, Kiama Hospital closed however Meals on Wheels were granted access to still use their kitchen. The hospital cook would remain until 17th April, 1992 when Sue Waterhouse took over as our own appointed cook.  Two volunteers were rostered to help in the kitchen each day.  We now had a list of 40 volunteers and were supplying 60 meals a day to the local community.

1995 – 99

In April 1996 our application for Program Funding was approved. Our first paid Co-ordinator was employed, Mrs Margaret Muilwyk.  An office was set-up for her at the hospital.
During this time, a very comprehensive Policy and Practice Manual was completed.  Food Handling Safety and Hygeine regulations were being formalised.  The use of thermometers in the kitchen was introduced.  A committee meeting in 1997 reported that during the previous twelve months we had delivered 16,761 meals.
Frozen meals were introduced.

2000 – 2005

In June 2000 a new computer and a meal management program were purchased from Australian Computer Almanac (ACA) and is still in use today.
Communal meals were becoming increasingly popular and were equally enjoyed by the clients, volunteers and staff.
In 2002, the Committee and Volunteers were delighted that Kiama Meals on Wheels received a Premiers Community Award.
Life Member badges were presented to Marion Witheridge (the first secretary) and Ann Dawes, both of whom had been with Kiama Meals on Wheels since its inception.  Lina Brennan and Helen Parker also received Life Member badges for loyal and dedicated service to our organisation.
In September 2004, Shirley Kehlet was appointed Treasurer and Ann Dawes and Carol Fowler were appointed to the Board.

2005 - 2010

Annual Planning Days continued, as did the search for new premises and consideration of new and better ways to support people living with dementia.
In August 2007, Joanne North commenced as Coordinator and is our General Manager today.
In 2008, a unit was in the Kiama Quarry Business Park was being built in Brown Street.  Joanne North wrote, “When Brown Street property was found it was like a dream come true – it was the most suitable property, location, affordability and it could be fitted out to meet all the essential requirements of the service.  We will be able to provide greater choice of meals, meal options including cultural meals and manage the whole service from one location.”
By May 2008, the Coordinator and Committee were starting to plan and organise all that had to be done – organise a builder for the fit out, order the special equipment for the kitchen, office furniture and storage for documents, draw up a lease agreement, obtain a DA from the Council…etc. A Sub Committee was appointed to attend to relocation matters.

2010 – 2015

Kiama Meals on Wheels was now settled into their new premise.  The organisation continued to operate with the help of volunteers and a small team of paid staff.
In 2015 the referral system changed with the introduction of My Aged Care.  Anyone over 65 years of age who required our service had to register with My Aged Care and then a referral was sent through to us.  This system continues on today.
During this period, we saw the need to provide more nutritional support to our customers.  Around the same time, the Dietetics Department at the University of Wollongong approached us to engage in some of their research programs.  Thus a collaboration began between Kiama Meals on Wheels and the University of Wollongong.

2015 – TODAY

Funding for the nutritional and wellness program was sourced from Home and Community Care (HACC) with the support from the University of Wollongong.  Nutritional screenings began with some of our existing customers.  Then referrals came through from the RAS Assessors via My Aged Care.  The mini nutritional assessment (MNA) tool is used in the nutritional screenings.  The program continues on today and has demonstrated positive outcomes for clients requiring assistance with nutrition education and support.
During this period, the number of volunteers has grown to 130!  The number of meal deliveries continues to grow and currently stands at approximately 500 frozen meals each week.
2020 has been a challenging year for all Australians due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Kiama Meals on Wheels has implemented control measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 and to ensure the health and safety of our clients, volunteers and staff.