The success of Aveo’s restaurant-quality food delivery service has now been rolled out to encompass even more members of our community. He may not have the precious metal to prove it but John Casey knows a thing or two about what Australia’s elite athletes need to sustain them through their arduous national and international sporting endeavours. John helped devise the nutrition plan for Olympic sprinter Cathy Freeman ahead of her successful 2000 Sydney Games gold medal campaign. In the past he has also been an integral part of the Victorian Australian rules clubs Essendon and Hawthorn by working alongside their nutrition teams to design and prepare.In addition dozens of other athletes from the domestic and international sporting communities have visited the talented chef in a bid to ensure what they were putting in their mouths resulted in optimal performance in their chosen field.
But now John wants to share the secrets of a good, balanced diet with Australia’s active seniors community. The Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council recommends on average that Australian’s aged 70-plus should be consuming at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit per day. This is in addition to at least 2.5 servings of lean meat/poultry/fish, eggs and nuts and four servings of dairy.
Yet according to the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA), the prevalence of malnutrition in residential aged care facilities in Australia is, at 40-70 percent, unacceptably high. The DAA says that because Australia is an ageing population and limited research is available on how best to prevent malnutrition among the elderly in the community and in care, this area of focus warrants immediate attention. John agrees and argues that along with physical activity and socialisation, good nutrition is one of the pillars of healthy ageing. “Older people, particularly those with smaller appetites, run the risk of simply not getting the nutrition they need. Fresh, quality food can enhance people’s lives and overall wellbeing, and it’s my mission to rid the retirement industry of outdated pureed food stereotypes.”
And he’s practicing what he preaches. Through his role as Aveo National Food Services Manager, John has been the principal driver of a new partnership between Aveo and Nutrition Professionals Australia (NPA) to introduce a national nutritional standard across all in-house restaurant and catering services. As a result of this partnership, the pair have launched an industry-first delivery service that sees a fresh cooked-to order meal sent to participating residents to enjoy at home. Dubbed Nutrition Select, the programme launched in Queensland in 2016 and has recently been rolled out across New South Wales, South Australia and now Victoria. Designed specifically to meet the dietary requirements of over 65s, John says the service offers a range of restaurant quality meals that are easy to prepare, extra tasty and are “enriched with all the nutritional goodies older bodies require”.
Covering breakfast, lunch and dinner, and some treats in between, the selection incorporates seasonal variations. The menu has been approved by NPA and is accompanied with a key indicating when the menu item is purely nourishing, healthy, gluten free, vegetarian or a combination of all four. Boasting more than 50 items, the selection includes a diverse offering ranging from bacon and tomato omelettes for breakfast through to an assortment of sandwiches and soups for lunch. The choices for main meals include everything from roast loin of pork with apple and thyme jus, and roast vegetables, to beef lasagne. John says the Nutrition Select ready-meal service is also economical with the cheapest selection on the menu being a home-style chicken broth soup at $3.50 and the most expensive menu item being a salmon fillet with vin blanc sauce and seasonal vegetables at $10.50 per serving. All items are cooked to order and can be frozen for enjoyment at home at a later date.
“All meals are prepared fresh by qualified chefs and produced in a state-of-the-art production facility. All the meals have been developed in consultation with NPA and comply with the Department of Health Victorian Nutrition Guidelines to ensure optimum levels of nutrition and portion size are maintained,” John says. To ensure costs are kept down there is a minimum order value of $30 per person and all meals are delivered within a few days of the order being placed. John, who has been in the food industry now for more than 30 years, says he feels strongly that the integrity and standard of food should be the same regardless of whether it’s a fine dining establishment or a retirement village.
“Transitioning to a retirement village can be a big adjustment, but for many, food can bring a sense of familiarity and make the move easier. I want our residents to have confidence that the food provided in Aveo villages is nourishing and sustainably sourced from the freshest produce. It’s also important for older people to enjoy their meal times and fostering a social approach to food through our village communities is one way we achieve this.”