Thursday 14 January 2021

More than 25 neighbourhood houses will be able to expand their food relief services to ensure Victorians most in need have access to fresh, healthy food.

The State Government yesterday announced the recipients of their $5 million Community Food Relief Fund which will provide two million meals and 180,000 food hampers to vulnerable Victorians.

"Every Victorian deserves access to fresh and healthy food – which is why we’re boosting resources for community-based food relief services and ensuring all families can stay happy and healthy," said Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan. 

Of the 97 organisations receiving these grants, 27 are funded neighbourhood houses or auspiced by neighbourhood houses, providing our sector a boost of just over $1.4 million dollars.

During 2020, 45 per cent of neighbourhood houses provided some form of emergency food relief including pre-prepared meals delivered by volunteers or available for takeaway, fresh fruit and vegetable boxes, open food pantries and hampers.  

"Providing food relief during a pandemic provides many logistical challenges, especially when you're dealing with a contagious virus," said Neighbourhood Houses Victoria CEO Nicole Battle. 

"Food handling is important at the best of times, but as always, neighbourhood houses rose to the challenge because responding to community need is what they do.”

Nicole stressed how important these programs were for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“During a time when people were losing their jobs or were unable to leave their homes due to pre-existing conditions, these food relief programs have kept people from going hungry. From the parents worrying about how they'll keep their children fed, to older people or people with mobility issues who can't make it to the supermarket, neighbourhood houses have provided security and surety.

The significant rise in demand for food assistance has stretched our house's resources thin, so this funding boost is much-needed. Even though food relief is considered an essential service by our governments, it bares reminding that neighbourhood houses do not receive regular, targeted funding to run programs like these. Instead this all happens due to the hard work and resourcefulness of our staff, the generosity of our volunteers, and vital community partnerships with local business, supermarkets and organisations like Foodbank.

I am truly proud of the impact our sector has on people's everyday lives."

The State Government also announced its intention to build regional food hubs to increase the capacity of food relief storage and distribution services in regional Victoria. The hubs will ensure food gets to where it’s needed by strengthening the link between suppliers and those experiencing food insecurity. Find out more.

Neighbourhood house recipients:

  • Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre 
  • Greenhills Neighbourhood House 
  • Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre 
  • Kyabram Community and Learning Centre
  • Emerald Community House
  • Reservoir Neighbourhood House 
  • Quantum Support Services 
  • Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House 
  • Mallacoota District Health and Support Service 
  • Nairm Marr Djambana 
  • Keysborough Learning Centre 
  • Tatura Community House 
  • Laverton Community Integrated Services 
  • Tullamarine Community House and Men's Shed 
  • Morwell Neighbourhood House 
  • Kyneton Community House 
  • West Footscray Neighbourhood House
  • Glen Park Community Centre  
  • Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place
  • Power Neighbourhood House 
  • Brunswick Neighbourhood House 
  • Stawell Neighbourhood House  
  • Swan Hill Neighbourhood House 
  • Heyfield Community Resource Centre 
  • Birallee Park Neighbourhood House  
  • Belgium Avenue Neighbourhood House 

Pictured above: Carol and Rhonda from Power Neighbourhood House, a recipient of the Community Food Relief Fund.