Michael Mukwada and Chance Kosaruro, two unemployed men, having a meal brought to them by Meals on Wheels in Joburg. Picture: ETIENNE CREUX

The Meals on Wheels organisation has been serving meals to the elderly and people in need for 50 years and last year served up 3.45 million meals in KZN.

It has widened its area of service to include people with little or no income, those on old age pensions or disability and child care grants. It also helps unemployed women with children, child-headed households and orphans.

“Many of our beneficiaries cannot walk, are frail and sickly, so the delivery of the food to their homes is a necessary service,” says Erika Botha, co-ordinating manager of Meals on Wheels.

“The meals are prepared with the help of volunteers. Food is provided by donors from the community and donations are received from private donors, small companies and shops, as well as corporates.

“Not only do we deliver cooked meals to the homes of pensioners, but meals are also served from the service points so that social interaction can be encouraged as well as activities, crafts, exercise, workshops and talks.

“Most of the pensioners whom we assist are also looking after their children and grandchildren due to unemployment. Many look after grandchildren as parents have died of HIV/Aids. In these cases, our beneficiaries will not only collect their own meal, but also a meal for the family.”

Meals on Wheels serves 10 million meals every year in South Africa. The organisation also has a Community Carer Initiative in which carers provide support and care to beneficiaries.

Services include basic medical attention, organising social enrichment activities, economical cooking lessons, outings for the elderly, home cleaning and other forms of help. This programme is dependent on volunteers who use their expertise in the areas where help is needed.

Another project is the Vegetable Hamper Project in which each pensioner contributes R20 a week and vegetables are bought in bulk. The pensioners pack them into hampers to be distributed among themselves.

* Call 0860 000 700 or visit www.mow.org.za