Reprieve for meal delivery service

Kaitangata pensioner Jack Oliver contemplates going back to basics after MBIE halted a local meal delivery service due to lockdown restrictions. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

An unofficial South Otago “meals on wheels” service has praised lockdown authorities for changing their minds, and adopting a “common sense” approach to its activities.

Crescent Bar & Grill co-owner Jen Macdonald said her Kaitangata pub’s ready-to-eat meal delivery service seemed to have been shut down for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown, after she received an email from MBIE on Wednesday last week.

The email said the service should cease operation immediately, as it was not regarded as “essential” under lockdown regulations.

However, she said Clutha Civil Defence this week appeared to have exercised its powers to make a local exception, as many of her customers were elderly and vulnerable.

“We supply about 30 households where one or more members are either elderly, unwell, or otherwise unable to cook easily.

“Although we’re a commercial operation, we cover areas that Red Cross’s meals on wheels don’t, so in that sense we’re an essential service for these people.”

One such customer is Jack Oliver (86), of Kaitangata.

Mr Oliver said the lockdown had steadily reduced his access to “a good, square meal” during recent weeks.

“I used to have meals and pick up extras at Holmdene [rest-home] in Balclutha, but that got locked down. Then I was using the local [Crescent] service, but that got shut off, too.

“It was getting down to tinned spaghetti time.”

Although his daughters were looking after him by delivering food in the meantime, Mr Oliver said others would not be so fortunate.

“If we’re all supposed to be staying in our bubbles, surely it’s better to have one person delivering a week’s worth of meals than 50 families driving around all at once?”

Otago Daily Times