It’s not often that a parking officer is able to put a smile on someone’s face but that’s what rangers at a western Sydney council are doing in their new roles as meal delivery volunteers.
Rangers at Campbelltown City Council who have seen their daily face-to-face workload reduced as a result of coronavirus restrictions are now turning their hands to delivering Meals on Wheels to vulnerable members of the community during the lockdown.
Council’s community partnerships officer Kerrie Flynn says three rangers are currently doing daily meal deliveries in council vehicles, with the number expected to increase to up to six after Easter.
Ms Flynn says her team approached the local Meals on Wheels, which is situated next to Council, after becoming concerned about the impact of potential lockdown measures about three weeks ago.
“We thought the Meals on Wheels service and all the services that rely on volunteers are going to struggle getting anything to anybody, because the volunteers are mostly seniors,” she said.
“So we popped around and said ‘we’ve got staff we might be able to redeploy’.”
Campbelltown Meals on Wheels operating manager Lyn Moores says the organisation’s 65 volunteers have dropped to eight, largely because they were in older, high-risk groups, while demand for services is surging and coming from further afield.
Meals on Wheels had previously been delivering about 10,000 meals a month but that number is expected to increase, Ms Moores says.
Ms Flynn says the initiative has been a win on all accounts.
“We’re happy to help throughout COVID-19 and it’s been really great for the rangers, who often “come with a bit of stereotype”, she said.
“They’re always seen as the people that are out doing fines. But now they’re putting a smile on peoples faces and they’re really enjoying the interaction as well.”
Council has also hired a large freezer for Campbelltown Meals on Wheels to store their excess stock which has been placed outside the Meals on Wheels building at the Campbelltown Civic Centre.
“Getting that means they have a backup supply,” Ms Flynn says.
Campelltown Mayor George Brticevic says essential services at the council are being maintained and planning for the future is continuing, but staff are finding meaningful ways to support the community while their jobs are affected.
“Meals on Wheels provide a valuable community service that is even more important at this time when the elderly and vulnerable of our community need to stay in their homes to keep safe,” Cr Brticevic said.
Supporting local eateries
Rangers are also doing their bit to support local business by helping cafes and restaurants deliver food.
Five local restaurants and cafes are currently participating in a pilot program and the trial will be expanded if it’s successful.
Yioti Vamvouklis is the manager of Crave Espresso, which is participating in the trial.
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