Last day in kitchen for Mataura cooks

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It will be the end of an eight-year era for the Mataura Meals on Wheels cooking team this week.

Since November 2011 a team of volunteers has been preparing and delivering meals for the town’s residents five days a week.

However, from Monday, the meals will be made at Heartland Hotel Croyden in Gore and delivered to Mataura each day.

The meals have been co-ordinated by Barbara Cunningham. Mrs Cunningham said it was disappointing the meals would no longer be made in Mataura.

“I’m sad to see it go.

“It’s just become, over the last few months, a bit hard.

“It’s mainly because we can’t get cooks,” she said.

One cook was rostered on each day, but as demand for meals increased a kitchen hand was needed to help as well.

The work had been done by volunteers.

“The girls have been fantastic.”

She was very pleased the Mataura Licensing Trust-owned Heartland Hotel Croyden had agreed to take on the service.

“People can still access the service in the same way they always have.

“The volunteers will still bring the meals down and deliver them.”

Mrs Cunningham’s involvement began in 2010, when she was part of the roster to deliver frozen meals, prepared in Gore, to clients in Mataura.

“I thought . . . we need something fresh, so I sort of started things rolling.”

Now, demand for the meals varies, with 16 presently receiving the hot main meal and pudding.

“About a month ago we had 20 on our books and a few years ago we were right down to three, thinking we would have to shut, but the need seems to be there.”

Whenever possible, vegetables from the Mataura community garden had been used for the meals.

Being part of the team had brought people together whose paths might not have crossed.

“They’ve made friendships that they never would have done.”

The volunteers were talking about how they could stay in touch with each other.

at Christmas.”

MLT general manager Mark Paterson said the trust was glad to help provide meals.

“There’s absolutely no money in it and so it is a community wellbeing thing which is what the Trust is about,” Mr Paterson said.

The hotel was already preparing meals for Gore residents.

“Another 20 won’t hurt . [it’s a] win-win outcome for the district.”

Barbara Cunningham can be contacted on (03)203 8910.