As the aged care royal commission continued this week, Maggie Beer took the stand to give evidence surrounding the stark reality of food quality in the aged care system.
With some facilities operating on a paltry budget of just $7 a day to feed each resident in an aged care home, celebrity chef Maggie Beer wants the community and the government to realise just how dire the situation really is for our elderly.
Giving evidence at the hearing in Cairns, Maggie implored the powers that be to drastically improve the food standards in aged care homes, as some residents have been left no choice but to eat cold, stale or flavourless meals offered to them in a bid to cut costs.
"They will have to use processed food, frozen food, frozen vegetables, fish that is usually frozen and imported, not even Australian," Maggie explained to the hearing, "It's just impossible."
As part of her advocacy work with the Maggie Beer Foundation (which was established especially to improve the quality of food in aged care) she told the room about the many complaint letters she gets sent about the quality of food in these facilities and the effect it has on her.
"It just breaks your heart because it doesn't have to be like that. It should never be like that. We have a responsibility to give a good way of life for those in aged care and in the community," she said.
While some aged care homes use plenty of fresh ingredients and operate on a daily budget of $14 to $17 per resident, Maggie would like the facilities that do have budget constraints to reshuffle outgoing costs to increase the catering budgets.
She told the hearing an achievable minimum budget would be $10.50 a day per resident, but would like to see all facilities eventually upping their catering budget to $14 per head, for which she said is enough to produce good, fresh meals for our elderly.