Repositioning Regional Food Relief

FoodShare has received funding from numerous community grant programs over the past 18 months to purchase quality nutritious food and to enhance the services available for those experiencing hardship in surrounding rural and regional communities impacted by the 2019/20 summer bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic. 

Among the supporters include Border Trust, Albury City, City of Wodonga, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, Rivalea, Charlies Sturt University, SS&A Albury, Commercial Club Albury, Collier Charitable Foundation, RACV, Into Our Hands Community Foundation, Australian Communities Foundation, Second Bite, Regional Development Victoria (RDV), Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH).

FoodShare immediately responded to the bushfire emergency on New Years Day in 2020 by operating the warehouse seven days a week for all of January. As part of the emergency relief effort, FoodShare distributed food, pet food and basic grocery items to bushfire effected communities.  

The huge community effort driven by FoodShare was supported by a virtual army of community volunteers, which resulted in around 100,000kg of food and essential household items being donated within the first few weeks of the year to residents located in the Towong Shire (Victoria), and the Snowy Valleys Shire (NSW) with trailer loads of food also sent to NSW towns including Wagga Wagga, Holbrook, Batlow and Jingellic. In Victoria critically needed supplies were provided to Towong, Alpine and Wangaratta local government areas. 

Over the past 18 months, FoodShare’s services have evolved leading to the implementation of FoodShare’s Community Pantry program, which has enabled food hampers to be delivered directly to members of the community, particularly families who were requiring emergency food relief for the first time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The food hampers have been well received by the community with many individuals and agencies finding the new service very beneficial. 

With the long-term impacts of restrictions imposed from the coronavirus and cross-border lockdowns placing a significant strain on families in the Albury-Wodonga region, FoodShare’s team of volunteers distributed over 300 pre-packed food hampers to local residents in a contactless COVIDSafe manner from two pop up drive-thrus. In addition to this initiative, FoodShare distributed almost 400 food hampers with culturally appropriate ingredients directly to local homes as part of Albury Wodonga’s coordinated COVID emergency relief effort during the region’s latest outbreak. 

In addition to the food hamper service, the Community Pantry project has expanded further with the opening of the FoodShare Shop this month. This service is accessible by local residents experiencing financial hardship to select their own grocery items from a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, pantry staple items, pre-prepared meals as well as personal hygiene, household items and pet food. To access this new service shoppers need to have a FoodShare voucher from their support agency or community centre, as it’s important that those who visit the FoodShare Shop have access to all the support they need. 

These changes to FoodShare’s operations were initiated by the response to the 2019/20 summer bushfires, however the enhanced services now provided by FoodShare have revolutionised the way that emergency food relief is delivered to North-East Victorian and Southern NSW communities.