Need for feed greater than ever

L-R Sarah Daly (Whittlesea Food Collective Lead), Al Wicks (Whittlesea Food Collective Coordinator), Luma Alhendi (Youth Food Hub Worker), Edie Schmutter (Youth Food Hub Worker). (supplied)

Staff from VicHealth’s seven Future Healthy Food Hubs gathered at Whittlesea Community Connections last week to share ideas and learnings on their efforts to make Victoria’s food system fairer and more sustainable.

Throughout Whittlesea, there are high rates of fast-food outlets compared with fresh food outlets and a lack of access to affordable fruit and vegetables.

Whittlesea Community Connections runs various social enterprises and food programs, including a hardship help program which supports up to 100 families per week with free food, essential items and referrals to support services.

Whittlesea food collective lead Sarah Daly said sadly the need for this service is increasing.

“Due to the rise in the cost of living and housing pressures, we’ve seen a 150 per cent increase in local families accessing food relief and material aid over the past year,” she said.

“Our Food Collective market and food box social enterprises are trying to relieve the pressure on household budgets and improve access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.

“Any profits that we make go back to supporting local families struggling to put food on the table.”

They also manage a weekly produce market and a food box social enterprise both aim to increase access to healthy, affordable and locally grown food.

The team hand picks produce from the Melbourne Wholesale Market to keep prices low, giving preference to local growers and fresh, culturally appropriate, seasonal fruit and vegetables.

They also stock a range of locally sourced products such as eggs, honey and legumes. Food boxes are delivered free to homes and workplaces in Whittlesea.

All proceeds from the Whittlesea Community Connections’ social enterprises are reinvested into programs to help address food insecurity.

Gerald Lynch