Senior volunteers supply Meals on Wheels in Christchurch

Senior volunteers supply Meals on Wheels in Christchurch

Shirish Paranjape
Christchurch, March 29, 2020

A resident in Herne Bay, Auckland, receiving hot meal from a New Zealand Red Cross volunteer (New Zealand Red Cross Picture)

I experienced something new on Friday (March 27, 2020), thanks to Red Cross.

Red Cross volunteers make sure that meals prepared by Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) reach the needy residents in the community.

However, a majority of these volunteers are over 70 years of age and hence cannot perform this role while New Zealand is in Alert Level 4 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

I got to participate in the Meals on Wheels programme as a Red Cross volunteer.

Shirish Paranjape

The process

The process runs as follows:

A CDHB van brings the food in many polystyrene boxes to a designated pick-up point at 11 am. Each box has a number, associated with a particular part of the town.

I had No 36, and my list had 17 meals for residents. There was a large no 36 box, which had 17 hot meal casseroles; while a smaller No 36 box had 17 boxes of dessert.

My job was to give one hot meal and one dessert to each resident on the list.

Special Meals

Like airlines, there are special meals too – which are marked on the meal and dessert boxes.

My complete ‘run’ took about two hours, at the end of which I had to bring back the empty polystyrene boxes to the designated pick-up point, and leave them in a cupboard.

A few other friends – Veena and Sudhir Joshi and Shilpa Shailaj also volunteered on that day to ensure this wonderful service continued ‘as normal.’

The smiles and thanks from elderly residents made the efforts worthwhile.

Shirish Paranjape is Indian Newslink Correspondent in Christchurch.

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