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E tu says hospital kitchen should pick up Pukekohe Meals on Wheels

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The union, E tū, is urging the Counties Manukau DHB to consider the health of elderly Pukekohe residents, and tell its food services contractor, Compass, to resume freshly cooked Meals on Wheels.

The meals used to be prepared from scratch in the Pukekohe hospital kitchen.

Then, last July Compass contracted the airline catering company, LSG Sky Chefs, to supply frozen pre-cooked meals for the Meals on Wheels service.

At the time, 50 elderly Pukekohe residents received Meals on Wheels. Today just 25 clients remain with local volunteers blaming the poor quality of the meals.

Volunteer Brien Golding told E tū the meals are poorly presented, lack variety, and are half the size they were when the frozen meals were first introduced.

E tÅ«’s Industry co-ordinator Jill Ovens says the freeze-heat-and eat model introduced by Compass last year was supposed to save the DHB money.

But she says, "If elderly people are going without meals, or they are not getting enough to eat, and they end up sick, it’s a false economy."

She says Brien Golding was in Pukekohe Hospital early this year and he praised the local hospital meals which are prepared fresh by the hospital’s cooks.

Mr Golding told E tū he was embarrassed when he returned as a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels and had to deliver the reheated frozen meals.

Ms Ovens says the freshly cooked meals service formerly provided by the hospital should resume.

"You are talking about another 20 to 24 meals a day, so it’s surely just a matter of doubling the quantities, given that the hospital patients are getting freshly cooked food anyway at this hospital.

"At the end of the day, the cost of the meals should take into account the health of the elderly in the Pukekohe community. After all, that’s why we have Meals on Wheels."

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