Arising directly from Durrow’s successful involvement with the Pride Of Place competition in 2006 a proposal came from the community to initiate a Meals on Wheels service for the town and surrounding area. In January 2007 an initial meeting was held under the auspices of the Durrow Community Council and it was agreed to set up a specific committee to initiate and manage a Meals on Wheels service. The original Committee, which continues to today is made up as follows: Chairman/Secretary: Arthur Lappin; Treasurer: Marie Clooney; Committee Members: Michael Lanigan, Eileen Keenan, Pius Hennessy, Julie Lalor, Mary Walsh, Marie Phelan, Jacinta Brennan, John Donohue.
The Community Council agreed to provide access to an old kitchen in the Community Hall to be the kitchen for the service. This space was fitted out and equipped to a high standard over the succeeding months. The capital cost of setting up the kitchen to the standards required by the Environmental Health Authority and the cost of preparing for the launch of the service was about €7,000. The HSE contributed to this capital cost and local fundraising and in-kind service was also a significant contributor.
The local FAS scheme agreed to provide cooks for the service and recruitment and training took place during August and September 2007. To date the following cooks have provided sterling service to the scheme: Michelle Brophy, Teresa Doherty, Madeline Conroy, Lorraine Stokes, Shirley Seale, Patricia Moynan, Darlene Donohue, Barbara O’Sullivan and Pauline Scully. A voluntary rota of drivers was recruited and on average these local drivers deliver on 5 days in every quarter.
The drivers who have provided service to date include: Catherine Clancy, Seamus Clancy, Sean and Ann Conroy, Mary and Orla Doyle, Breda Dowling, Helena Dunphy, Maeve Fletcher, Kathleen Flynn, Pius Hennesy, Jimmy Joyce, Eileen Keenan, Teresa and John Kelly, Sheila Keown, Gay Lalor, Julie Lalor, Michael Lanigan, Arthur Lappin, Kate Lennon, Larry Mahoney, Anne Marie McCann, Marge McGeogh, Imelda O’Brien, Declan Phelan, Mary and Jimmy Ryan, Mary Walsh, Tommy and Mary Walsh.
The scheme delivered its first meals on 22nd October 2007. Ongoing funding for the service is provided by a daily charge to clients of the scheme. This charge is very reasonable because a contribution from the HSE is paid for each meal delivered and continuous support, in cash and in kind, from the local community, helps to maintain the viability of the service. The fact that the FAS scheme provides the cooks at its expense is critically important for the economics of the service. A hot main course and desert is hygienically prepared and packaged in insulated containers, and delivered by volunteer drivers each day between 12.00 and 13.00.
The menu rotates every 10 days so as to ensure variety. Special dietary needs, such as those for Diabetics and Coeliacs, are catered for. Meals are prepared freshly each day from locally sourced fresh produce. A rota of local suppliers is used so as to ensure a fair distribution of business within the town. Surveys of clients have been undertaken periodically to ensure satisfaction with the quality and variety of the food and the general standard of the service.
Initially the scheme provided meals on 3 days a week and in Jan 2009 this was extended to a five-day service (Mondays to Fridays including Bank Holidays). On average about 15 clients per day avail of the service in the town and an area extending to a three-mile radius. To date, over 50 individuals have benefited from the service and in excess of 15,000 meals have been delivered.
Photos: Top – Working hard in the Kitchen; Bottom – Loading up for Delivery.
Phone: Paddy Quinn (057) 8736870.
Address: FAS Office, Carrigan Street, Durrow, Co. Laois.