Meals on Wheels cooks say goodbye

The Meals on Wheels cooks who recently retired from the kitchen, are from left, Bev Walls, Lyn Gildenhuys, Beth Lachenicht, Maureen Knobel and Dawn Chase.

It was a sad day for the Meals on Wheels kitchen last month as a group of women who have collectively spent 75 years in the kitchen serving the community, retired and packed their utensils away for good.

Fish Hoek residents, Bev Walls, 73, Lyn Gildenhuys, 77, Beth Lachenicht, 83, Maureen Knobel, 80, and Dawn Chase, 83, became friends many years ago after meeting at the Handicraft Centre Craft Club.

With this group in the kitchen, based at the False Bay Hospital, the kitchen did not only come alive with the rattle of pots and pans but erupted with laughter and chitter-chatter as they worked their magic behind the stove.

Meals on Wheels is a public benefit organisation which provides a three-course meal to about 40 vulnerable community members once a month.

A pinboard in the kitchen overflows with cards and letters of thanks from community members who benefit from their service.

“The notes makes it all worthwhile,” said Ms Knobel who joined as a cook 22 years ago.

She said she and some of the craft club members responded to an appeal for cooks in the local newspaper, and the rest is history.

She and Ms Lachenicht joined them and a few years later, Ms Knobel’s sister, Ms Gildenhuys, joined them and has not looked back for the past 13 years.

Then Ms Chase and Ms Walls joined the group and have been part of the team for the past nine years.

Ms Knobel and Ms Gildenhuys were both born in Fish Hoek and their parents were both cooks.

“Our food is made with love. It is homemade, tasty and appealing,” Ms Knobel said.

Meals consists of a starter which is usually a soup, a main meal which consists of a starch, protein and two vegetables, and dessert.

After completion, the food is packed in small containers and placed in a larger Tupperware container, which makes it easy to transport.

Once the meals are ready, they are collected by volunteers who use their own vehicles and work in teams of two – a driver and a hopper – to deliver the meals to the recipients.

Ms Lachenicht said she initially joined as she was looking for companionship and wanted to do something for the community.

“I had no idea I would make such good friends and have so much fun,” she said.

Ms Walls, originally from Johannesburg, moved to Fish Hoek 11 years ago.

She wanted to get involved in her community and joined the Handicraft Centre Craft Club where she met her fellow cooks who encouraged her to join.

“We make such a great team,” she said.

They say they will miss the fun they had in the kitchen but the time has come to hand the reins over to a new group.

Meals on Wheels cooks co-ordinator, Liz Harrison said they are urgently looking for new cooks as well as drivers and hoppers.

As a cook, you will be a voluntary member of a team of four to five cooks.

Training will be provided and equipment in the kitchen is supplied. “The teams work really hard and we become great friends, and get real satisfaction out of a job well done, and an occasional laugh at hitches and glitches,” Ms Harrison said.

If you are interested in being a cook or for more information, call Ms Harrison at 021 782 2047 between 4pm and 6pm.

For enquiries about volunteering as a driver or hopper, call Allan Wise on 082 610 4304.