For many people, visiting the doctor is often met with feelings of anxiety or nervousness, long waiting periods and a collection of outdated magazines to help pass the time. 

Since partnering with SHINE SA in April we’ve been providing nutritious meals to the Hyde Street clinic for them to distribute to their vulnerable clients awaiting an appointment.

These meals have been warming the hearts of those facing food insecurity or close to homelessness, sofa hopping or living in shared or funded accommodation.

Georgina Berry, Practice Nurse at the Hyde Street clinic says she’s noticed an increase in the number of vulnerable South Australians who have presented to the clinic during the pandemic, and offering a warm meal alongside their free or subsided health care appointment has made all the difference.

“We have several clients who have found due to anxieties and mental health, and the stress of COVID germ-related [phobias] exacerbating these anxieties – they’ve been unable to face a supermarket without extreme anxiety and have resorted to starvation instead.”

Ms Berry says the SHINE SA staff have been offering the meals to anyone they feel needs it, with many clients facing food insecurity, including poor access, capacity or limited money to purchase food. 

“With a nutritious meal, the impact is often immediately recognised.”

“[We witness the] surprise from the client that we are offering them such good quality and varied food, followed by extreme thankfulness.”

“This may be the only meal they have had in days, or even the only warm and nutritious meal they have had in weeks,” she says.

SHINE SA clients and staff have been impressed with the quality and variety of Meals on Wheels, and Ms Berry says she’s been pleasantly surprised by the clients’ reactions to the desserts.

“The desserts are always the favourite, as many will state they cannot remember the last time they ate something sweet.”

“I am so thankful for the meals … it made my day,” one client said.

“The meal allowed me to focus. With an empty stomach I am no good to anyone, but I was then able to concentrate on my appointment with my GP,” said another.

For over 50 years, SHINE SA has been supporting the sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing of South Australians. In recent years, this has included the introduction of a General Practice at Hyde Street.

“At SHINE SA, we have a diverse clientele from all walks of life. Often presenting to us when they may be at their most vulnerable, we just want to support and advocate for them [the] best we can,” Ms Berry says.

“It’s rewarding for us to know we are providing those in need of a nutritious meal with something tasty and satisfying.”