From parcel to platter – upskilling Whittington residents

Encompassed within Solar Drive and tucked in behind the local primary school, the Bellarine Living and Learning Centre (BLLC) lies within the heart of Whittington.

Established in 1984, the aim of the community-based organisation is to provide local residents with opportunities to learn, develop, and socialise, as well as emergency food assistance to those experiencing hunger through their Foodbank.

The Bellarine Living and Learning Centre’s approach to alleviating local food insecurity is simple: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

A $30,000 grant from the Give Where You Live Foundation assists BLLC in running the ‘FoodConnect’ Program which is a weekly complimentary class for clients to learn how to grow and cook food.

“We want to build the capacity of our neighbourhood and the confidence of the people within Whittington to utilise what they are receiving within a food parcel,” says Anita, the Food Security Project Worker at BLLC.

Food parcels are sorted and packed by volunteers and then provided to clients who live in Whittington and the 3219 community. As food is provided by Foodbank Victoria or other local donors, items within each parcel.

“Through conversations with our clients, we identified that some people didn’t know how to cook with certain ingredients such as fish stock. This program will provide cooking skills for clients but we hope it will also generate a flow-on effect where their family members and children will learn how to use these ingredients.”

Anita was quite pleased when one returning client had told her she now knows how to make soup.

“For [BLLC], providing a healthy meal can be a key to health. Not just physical health but provides an opportunity to create connections with others.”

Foodbank volunteers Terri and Anthea have noticed that it’s not only providing food but being able to engage in conversations with clients, which in turn increases their social connection.

“People know [us as] ‘the foodbank ladies’ and talk to us about other issues in their life – the informal discussions make people more excited when visiting the Foodbank.”

 “We enjoy volunteering here as there’s a great deal of respect given to those people who come to the centre with support given to better their circumstances in life. Some of these clients are our neighbours.”

The Bellarine Living and Learning Centre is one of over 60 organisations that provide and distribute food assistance.

An estimated 50 people use BLLC’s Foodbank every week but estimated that the impact of one parcel reaches up to 300 people.