Cooking and meals
If you have a disability or ongoing health problems, ask for an assessment to see if you can get help with your diet, cooking, meals or shopping for food.
There is government support available if you need help with meals because you:
- have ongoing or age-related health problems
- live with a disability
- were injured or disabled in an accident
- are recovering after hospital treatment and need help for a short while.
You can also arrange your own help, but you pay for it yourself.
Help you can get
Help with cooking and meals includes:
- getting meals delivered, eg Meals on Wheels
- preparing meals, eg a caregiver helps you prepare food or makes sure you have food for the day
- shopping for essentials or special food you need, eg a caregiver may take you shopping or do the shopping for you
- seeing a specialist if you need a special diet.
If you have a Community Services Card, help with meal preparation and other household management services is free.
How to ask for government help
The help you can get from government depends on your personal circumstances, eg whether you have family or whānau who could help, or if you're over 65.
If you have a disability or age-related health issues
Arrange a needs assessment through your doctor, District Health Board (DHB) or Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) team if you have:
- health problems due to old age
- an ongoing health condition that will last for more than 6 months, or
- a disability.
If you’re on a low income, you can apply for a Disability Allowance to:
- help with the cost of visiting a dietician
- pay for the extra cost of any special food you need because of your disability or illness, eg if the special food you need costs more than the same regular food, you can claim for the difference in the cost.
After an accident or injury
If you need help because of an injury, the health professional treating you lodges a claim with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
If your claim is accepted, your case owner at ACC can arrange the help you need. They carry out a Social Rehabilitation Assessment to work out what you need.
After a stay in hospital
If you’re in hospital and need some help for a short time when you get home, talk to the social worker at the hospital. They can arrange help through the Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) team or sometimes through the District Nursing Service.
If you find that you need help after you’re back home, talk to your family doctor or the doctor treating you.
If you're a veteran
If you have a service-related injury or illness, you may be able to get some short-term help with cooking and meals. The Social Rehabilitation programme provides help for up to 2 hours a week for 6 weeks.
Contact Veterans' Affairs to talk to a case manager about what you need. They’ll:
- help you get the support you’re entitled to from other government agencies
- recommend help from Veterans’ Affairs if no other service is available.
Freephone: 0800 483 8372
If you can’t afford to buy food
If you’re on a low income — including a benefit or a pension — and have no other way to pay for food, talk to Work and Income about benefits you can apply for, eg a Special Needs Grant.
If you can’t get government help
You can pay for services yourself, eg Meals on Wheels. If you have a needs assessment, ask the team to suggest services in your area.
65 years or older
Your SuperGold Card offers discounts for all kinds of food businesses in your area.
In most areas of New Zealand, you can do a free 8-week cooking course to help you make meals for 1 or 2 people.
Many supermarkets and other food stores offer a service where you can order online and they deliver to your home.
Many charities provide food and meals to people in their communities, especially if they can’t afford to buy food.