Food Relief and Community ConnectionJanuary 14, 2021
Surviving on a pension, Brenda struggles to make ends meet. She lives on her own in a caravan park, the only accommodation she can afford. Brenda is lonely and isolated and struggles with health issues. Life has been a constant challenge for her, and her stress levels are constantly high. Brenda has been visiting the Bellarine Living & Learning Centre’s food bank for the past year, which has assisted in making ends meet.
Thanks to your donations, the Bellarine Living & Learning Centre recently received a Feed Geelong grant of $8,500 to address the needs of those living in their neighbourhood experiencing food insecurity just like Brenda. A Foundation Community grant of $30,000 has assisted in employing a Food Security Development Officer to oversee the Centre’s FoodConnect project which assists in developing enhanced food literacy and food preparation skills within the community.
Food security has been identified as a priority by the Whittington community through community engagement feedback surveys. Bellarine Living & Learning Centre situated right in the heart of the Whittington community offers a range of programs and activities that cater for the community needs including the food bank program that is highly utilised.
The food bank program runs from the Centre every Wednesday (9.00am – 12.00pm) with the help of a vibrant volunteer base and reaches approximately 40 people per week; with an estimated impact on approximately 200 people living within those households.
It has been noted that across Victoria during the Covid-19 pandemic there has been an increase in those needing food aid, and this has been evident at the Bellarine Living & Learning Centre where they have experienced a sharp increase of those accessing food aid after lockdowns.
Those accessing food aid through the food bank program include the following estimated breakdown with many of those also experiencing housing instability and poverty.
- elderly pensioners 40%
- young families 40%
- single parent families 20%
For many across the Whittington neighbourhood, the Centre provides not only food aid, but also a chat and some connection. Brenda loves the cheerful atmosphere and caring people.
Anita Belousoff, the Centre’s Food Security Development Officer commented “The food bank program has given Brenda a space to find a little bit of joy in amongst her stressful week. Brenda can crochet and has started bringing in hand knitted goods for staff to hand out to those using food bank. She describes it as her way of being able to give back.
She feels a lot of satisfaction knowing she has contributed in some small way. Brenda now crochets blankets and gloves to bring into the Centre and has found a real sense of purpose in her life. Without the food bank program, she would have remained in a very sad state.
With thanks to funding bodies such as the Give Where You Live Foundation, we can run the food bank and connect with people who are doing it very tough, giving them opportunities to connect and improve their lives for the better.”