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The Highlands Food Connect Project meal delivery program is a 12-month project delivering frozen meals to community members living in the Central Highlands area. The meals are made by the Waterbridge Co-op in Gagebrook (another program funded by a Healthy Tasmania Community Innovations Grant).
The project aims to improve access and supply of healthy and affordable food and increase community participation, skill development and social connections. As well as the meal delivery service, Highlands Food Connect also includes workshops, community cafes, social activities and school lunchbox workshops.
Realistic, local solutions have been implemented that will improve long term food security for people on low incomes, older people – especially those who are isolated or living alone – and people in isolated places where fresh and affordable food is difficult to access.
The meal delivery program began in February 2018 and expanded quickly. Highlands Food Connect now supports more than 70 clients receiving regular meals, delivered by a growing volunteer base of 15 local people.
Survey results have shown a client satisfaction rate of 100% with the meal delivery program, with participants reporting that they are eating better and more varied/different foods, enjoying food more and are interacting with more people.
Other benefits have included increased community participation through volunteering, increased skills and knowledge around healthy lifestyle choices and improved food and health literacy.
Many participants are now volunteering to collect or deliver meals for the program. The Central Highlands Council has also contributed funding for the program as a result of the success of the seed funding from the grant.
Successful workshops have also been run in the community to build skills in food preparation and cooking. Over 80 people have participated in the workshops, facilitated by community members. Topics have included bread-making, processing and cooking game meats, curries, vegetarian and healthy breakfasts.
Many participants have reported enjoying the company and friendship of others, meeting new people, and having fun – which highlights the importance of providing opportunities for social connection, especially in isolated rural communities.
image: Highlands Food Connect: Game and Meat Processing Workshop