My NDIS funding allows me to source meals from certain providers. However, the food standard supplied is often unpalatable.
We need to talk about the quality of the pre-prepared meals available on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Delivered weekly, the meals are partly subsidised by the NDIS and partly paid for by the client.
In the ACT, the two main providers are The Good Food Co and Kinela, but the quality of food is frankly completely unpalatable in a lot of cases.
In my opinion, it is far worse than the equivalent supermarket-brand ready-to-cook meals sold by Woolworths and Coles. I’d go further, and say that it is on par with the nursing home food made famous by the Royal Commission.
Cooking for myself is something I struggle with due to my autism, so I was naturally interested in these meal services after I was approved for NDIS funding.
I had hoped to use them as a way to eat healthier meals while I worked on my cooking skills with a support worker.
I ordered around half of the available items from each provider. I could only eat around half of the meals, owing to the extremely poor food quality. I cancelled the arrangements with each provider after two weeks.
The meat was clearly the cheapest possible cut and cooked to the point of flavour evaporation, the vegetables (making up around three-quarters of each meal) were frankly less appealing than what I’ve had in the past from dumpster diving for food.
In my opinion, neither The Good Food Co or Kinela would remain in the food service industry without the support from the government.
This is not a unique situation, as the elderly care sector is facing the same challenges. As far as I can estimate, the ingredients per meal used by both providers in no more than $3. What’s more, it’s been noted that even the smallest investment in the ingredients can dramatically improve the quality of a meal at this level.
I also used the commercial sector equivalent of these meal providers, and the quality of those meals was excellent in comparison.
Yet, when it comes to the nation’s elderly or those with disabilities, shit quality food is perfectly acceptable.
I have now instead been able to use my NDIS plan to have a support worker to help me prepare some meals for the week, but I have more agency than many though – I am lucky to have that option.
For those largely reliant on carers, the NDIS providers are all they have.
It’s time to demand better, and we need to call out those responsible. The disabled and the elderly deserve better than this.