Meals on Wheels SA has teamed up with the Dunstan Foundation’s Thinkers in Residence program for two years, to aid a transition into new ways of operating in the future.
The acclaimed Thinkers in Residence program brings pioneering ideas to South Australia by bringing together experts, including a visiting expert ‘Thinker’, to search for solutions to the most complex social challenges of the time.
“Meals on Wheels SA is a perfect example of the calibre of forward thinking not-for-profit organisations we want to work with, to help position South Australia as the ‘social capital’ of our region,” says Allyson Hewitt, the current Resident Thinker.
Hewitt is a non-profit leader and educator from Canada, who says her aim as a Thinker in residence is to “help re-design the social innovation ecosystem so that the private, public and not-for profit sectors are all better able to help grow the economy and do good at the same time.”
Meals on Wheels has adapted to many changes over its 65 years, and is constantly thinking creatively about how we can make a positive impact on the huge number of lives we touch every day, according to Meals On Wheels SA Chief Executive Officer Sharyn Broer.
“There is a lot of disruption happening in aged and community services at present,” Ms Broer says.
“We’re beginning to use our partnership with the Thinkers in Residence program to work through some of our challenges in how we might need to shift our business model in the future, as the way in which government supports home care for older people and people with a disability changes.”
Ms Broer says the organisation is looking at how it can use its skills, expertise, resources and facilities to generate commercial revenue and to partner with local businesses.
“We’ve seen that in any growth industry, there is more power in doing things together than there is in going it alone, so we are keen to form partnerships with food producers, with others who have an interest in food security or reducing food waste in the community, or those who are interested in reducing social isolation and using meals as a focal point for that.”
She says the partnership is evidence of a conscious move forward toward expanded social innovation while remaining relevant to its core market, by “leveraging our existing knowledge, as well as gaining a broader knowledge through experts.”
These residencies will focus on growing the social economy, the fastest growing part of South Australia’s economy.
With 86 branches and about 8 thousand volunteers across the state, Meals on Wheels SA hope this partnership will help the organization translate its long years of market experience into innovative benefits for the community it supports.
“We see that [in the future] Meals On Wheels will be a part of the foundation of supporting people to live well in their own homes well into their 80s and 90s and that there will be a continuing need for people to maintain good nutrition and social connection as they age,” says Ms Broer.