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August 24, 2022

Partnership provides nourishing support for vulnerable new mums

An Adelaide fine food delivery service has teamed with a charity to provide disadvantaged new mums with a week’s worth of nourishing meals to help at the most critical time of their parenting experience.

  • Words Ben Kelly
  • Above: Chefs on Wheels executive chef Paul Baker with The Village Co founder
  • Stephanie Malan (supplied).

A Nourished Week, an initiative created in collaboration between Chefs on Wheels and The Village Co, is a benevolent response to the challenges faced by vulnerable and at-risk new mothers who enter South Australia’s public health system.


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According to an Anti-Poverty Week report, women lead 95 per cent of the poorest single-parent families living near or below the poverty line in Australia.

In addition to this, the rising costs of rent, fuel and groceries are placing greater pressures on families already in financial distress.

As a midwife, Stephanie Malan has seen first-hand how many new mothers experience no family support at such a vulnerable time for them and their newborns.

“I had been seeing women, year-after-year, day-after-day, coming in to have a baby with very little support,” Stephanie says.

“A lot of people don’t know that women are doing it so tough in South Australia.

“I became a mum myself and I realised how hard it is even with all the support in the world. I just thought, how do these women do it when they don’t have a village around them like I was so fortunate to have?”

Wanting to help, Stephanie began curating bags of toiletries and baby products for midwives to give to new mothers.

The project then evolved into a registered not-for-profit organisation called The Village Co, which is now in its fourth year and entirely supported by the South Australian community.

Each bag provided by The Village Co carries more than $500 of value, including practical hygiene products, wipes, nappies and a wrap to keep their baby warm.

“The midwives and social workers really love giving out the bags and seeing the positive impact it has on the women,” Stephanie says.

“We supported almost 800 women last year and we’re looking at the same amount this year, if not more, so it’s a lot of value to be injecting into community.”

As of August, the bags now include a Chefs on Wheels voucher for nourishing meals that can feed a family for a week.

The frozen meals can be ordered direct from Chefs on Wheels, delivered to their door and placed in the freezer at home.


It’s anticipated about 100 new mothers will access the meal service each month.

“When you’ve had a child, the best thing to receive is a meal so you can spend more time feeding and resting from giving birth,” Stephanie says.

“I just can’t imagine these women not having that support at all from family or friends.”

Special “self-love” bags are also put together for women who won’t be taking their baby home – either because of miscarriage, stillbirth or removal by child protection.

“Unfortunately, many women needing support don’t get to leave the hospital with their babies, which would be the worst day of their life, so we’ve created a bag just for them,” Stephanie says.


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“Their self-worth and confidence would be absolutely zero, so we just want them to know that there is still a community out there that will love them and support them and want to get them back on track.”

Chefs on Wheels co-founder and executive chef Paul Baker says being involved in the new social enterprise has helped to enrich his workplace.

“It’s good for us and our staff; everyone needs to find time to give something back and this is our way of doing that,” he says.

“In producing the food, our staff are getting involved and it gives them a bit of extra joy in their working lives, knowing that they’ve helped somebody else.

“The meals are the same quality that we do at Chefs on Wheels but it’s just a bit more wholesome, and we throw in something to make them feel special such as a couple of chocolate cookie doughs.”

Paul’s vision is to expand the program’s reach further by partnering with other not-for-profit organisations.

“The first meals started going at the start of this month. We’re expecting to reach up to 100 people a month and we think that will grow even further,” he says.

“It’s all packaged ready for one drop off, it gets sent straight out to their house with the next possible delivery.

“The process is as clean as possible – here’s a week’s worth of meals, all on us.”

People can support The Village Co through physical donations, monetary donations or corporate giving.

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