Chef Maggie Beer Is Fighting For Better Food In Aged Care Homes

Maggie Beer, a celebrity chef with over 40 years of cooking experience, believes that senior residents in Australia should have “beautiful food.”

Food identity Maggie Beer in the kitchen of her Barossa Valley home
Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images

In 2014, Beer established the Maggie Beer Foundation to promote higher standards of cooking in aged care homes. She also teaches courses to help the nurses and staff learn how to cook.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care has long scrutinized senior home nutrition. According to them, aged care homes spend an average of $7.30 on each meal. That requires staff to serve frozen and processed food, as well as reusing dishes.

“A good quality meal doesn’t mean an expensive meal,” Beer said, “but it needs a lot of thought and knowledge and care.” She proposed that increasing the budget to $10.50 per meal can vastly improve the issue.

In Australia, 21 senior homes are under sanction by the Federal Government for low food performance. One-third of those have also been cited for hydration failures. “When you’re thinking of an older person when they come into aged care, often they can be malnourished,” said Mel Ottaway, executive manager of Aldersgate Aged Care, which cooks for their residents. “Often, they’ve lived on their own, and at times their intake hasn’t been overly great.”

A study by the University of Melbourne demonstrates that at least 42% of senior residents in Australia are malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition.

“One of the huge changes we have to make is training,” Beer told 7.30. She demonstrated two recipes–scrambled eggs with cream and parmesan, and mushrooms stuffed with lentils–that fed senior residents. “If you feed people beautiful food…the difference to well-being it makes to a resident, to all of us–there’s just not that understanding,” Beer explained.