ELDERLY residents are skipping meals or living off baked beans and tinned soup rather than eating the food on offer at Sarah Claydon Retirement Village in Milton.
Five residents claimed the pre-cooked and reheated meals provided to them were mostly inedible, with dried-out, tough and overcooked meat, soggy vegetables, spicy stews and stale cakes.
One hostel resident refused to eat many of the dishes and, after dropping five kilograms, was told by her doctor to drink Sustagen to supplement her diet.
Others were spending up to $100 a week on groceries, such as roast chickens, frozen pies and take-away quiches, despite paying the Illawarra Retirement Trust (IRT) 85 per cent of their pension to pay for care, cleaning, washing and food.
Residents claimed they were offered only one piece of fresh fruit once or twice a week, while the fruit juice provided was a powdered variety or juice strained from stewed fruit tins.
Many relied on relatives and friends to bring them fresh food, while others were taken out to eat once a week by family members.
Some, like Ted Geddes, choose to stay in their rooms and skip meals most days.
A retired road train driver, Mr Geddes said he had done it “pretty rough” over the years, often eating in mine camps and on remote cattle stations, but he had never encountered the “third world slop” he was served at Sarah Claydon.
“If the miners were given food this bad, they would have burned the camp kitchen down,” he said.
He said since the recent salmonella outbreak at some IRT centres, residents had not been served any salad and had to “beg for fruit”.
Mr Geddes lived mainly off tinned fruit or soups and relied on his sister to take him out occasionally or his neighbour June Fettell to bring some food from the supermarket.
IRT chief executive Nieves Murray said menus were “designed to provide residents with a well-balanced nutritional diet”.
“Meals for our residents are prepared and cooked at our central kitchen in Wollongong,” she said.
“They are delivered to our care centres and then reheated and individually plated in our site kitchens.
“Our menus have been reviewed by a dietician from the University of Wollongong to ensure they are of the highest nutritional value.
“We also have visiting dieticians on-site to review individual eating plans.”
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