According to ACOSS, 2.2 million Australians are currently living in poverty. Hunger is largely a hidden social problem and many victims suffer in silence. Each year two million people rely on food relief with around half of them being children.
Port Macquarie Neighbourhood (PMNC) and Reap Oz Harvest formed a partnership back in 2014 which allowed PMNC to offer one table per week of rescued bakery items to surrounding disadvantaged neighbours and families visiting the Centre.
Shortly after the demand became evident with an increasing number of people accessing the service.
According to PMNC Coordinator Julie Trowbridge the centre was able to increase supply, offering an additional day per week with the inclusion of fresh produce and grocery items also being made available.
“This service has now grown to six large tables of rescued food being offered to the wider community. We currently assist approximately 130 individuals each week,” Ms Trowbridge said.
“But we wanted to expand this service even more and increase storage and supply to allow for greater distribution by incorporating refrigerated and frozen goods.”
Thanks to an $8,084 grant from the ETC Community Support Fund PMNC was able to purchase a fridge, freezer, BBQ and storage items.
“We were so excited to get the funding,” Ms Trowbridge said.
“We estimate that Food Connect could now assist up to 250 people per week with our increased opportunities to rescue refrigerated and frozen foods.”
The aim of Food Connect is to provide a variety of nutritious rescued food to disadvantaged groups within the community who may otherwise struggle to provide healthy food for their families or meet the demands of ongoing living expenses.
The service is available every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30am with a gold coin donation at the PMNC located in Muston St.
Hastings local Debbie said working as a casual teacher meant money was tight in school holidays when she didn’t get paid.
“It’s great to be able to come down to the Food Connect service and grab a few items to help get me through. I still have my kids living at home and my rent is fairly high,” Debbie said.
“It helps to not have to stress about what I’m going to cook us for breakfast or dinner. I don’t come in regularly, just when I need to.”
“It’s great to see that local companies are happy to donate their leftover food instead of it going to waste.”
ETC’s Deputy Chair Lorraine Penn said it was a pleasure to be able to support the Port Macquarie Neighbourhood Centre.
“The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations reduce disadvantage, generate opportunity, increase support services and/or build capacity in the communities in which we operate,” Ms Penn said.
“ETC is proud to be a not-for-profit company and we are confident the money we are donating will help make a more positive future for our community.”
ETC provides employment, training and business services on the Mid North Coast. If you need help finding a job, are looking for staff or are interested in up-skilling, contact ETC on 1800 007 400 or visit www.etcltd.com.au.