ALBURY-Wodonga Regional FoodShare has provided about a million meals to the Border’s needy people in its first year.
Its founding director, Deanne Drage, said the need would continue to grow.
FoodShare was born after welfare agencies on the Border realised they were duplicating their work with already stretched resources.
“The churches and all the other agencies were operating on their own trying to source food,” Ms Drage said.
“There was no shortage of food in our region, but there was this bottleneck between the food producers and suppliers and the people in need.”
In just a year, they doubled the amount of food they “rescued” from supermarkets and other chains to an average 47.8 tonnes a month.
It’s food that’s just short of its use-by date and would have otherwise been thrown out.
Thanks to FoodShare, it was distributed to 83 agencies who provided the one million meals.
“People have this idea that it’s just the homeless and unemployed, but it’s single parents, the working poor, the elderly, people on disability pensions,” Ms Drage said.
She said as electricity bills continue to rise and welfare payments cut, there will be an increasing need for help.
“People are not using their lights, they’re not using their TVs, they’re turning off the fridge,” Ms Drage said.
“They want to keep the roof over their heads so what else are you going to get rid of when you’ve already got rid of the car?
“The mums and the dads will feed the children and the mums and dads don’t get anything.”
Ms Drage said FoodShare’s goal for the next year was to increase breakfast club and food programs in schools and universities on the Border so children and young people are not going to class hungry.
Ms Drage said they also want to start a small business operation that includes a traineeship.
“We need to work to reduce that cycle of poverty,” she said.
“We want to ensure we can empower people to get off that poverty cycle and that’s about education and employment.”
She thanked Wodonga TAFE Institute for its support.
For more information or to find out how to volunteer, phone FoodShare manager Peter Matthews on 0418 962 137.