The latest round of COVID lockdown restrictions has created huge challenges and disruptions for communities across the country. With OzHarvest food rescue classed as a frontline service and our teams as emergency workers, we are adapting runs every day as hospitality venues rush to donate surplus food, new hot spots emerge, and charities are forced to close their doors.
Demand for food continues to rise. Over half of the charities that OzHarvest deliver to had already reported an increase in numbers after Job Keeper/Seeker benefits ended in March. These charities now say they do not have enough food to meet demand. The latest lockdown is seeing more people turning to food relief for the first time in their lives.
OzHarvest Waterloo Market Manager, Eliza van der Sman said they are seeing new customers every day. “We’re handing out around 1,500 food hampers a week. There has been an increase in carers who are shopping for those in isolation and many people who have lost their job for first time. It’s often the only time people get out in a day.”
In NSW our emergency food relief services were winding down as funding had come to an end, but thanks to additional support just confirmed by NSW Government, many of our programs have now been extended. In Sydney, our chefs are creating 5,000 cooked meals from the OzHarvest kitchens and thanks to some dedicated volunteers, around 2,000 food hampers are packed a week. The OzHarvest Mobile Market is able to continue to visit hard-hit towns on the South Coast and Riverina.
VIC and SA
Victoria is now in its fifth lockdown since the pandemic began. OzHarvest State Manager for Victoria and South Australia, Bernardo Tobias said the team were showing great resilience and have doubled their food output thanks to emergency funding from the Victorian State Government. “We’ve been able to source an additional 200,000 kg of locally produced nutritious food to support vulnerable communities across Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat.”
“The team in South Australia is making sure we are getting good food to those who need it most during these challenging and uncertain times,” said Bernardo.
Over in WA the snap lockdown at the end of June caught many by surprise, State Manager Jen Keen said “OzHarvest were buoyed by the strength and agility shown by our food donors to ensure that good food did not go to waste. In five days, we collected and redistributed a staggering 30,000kg of beautiful food from some of Perth’s leading venues including Optus Stadium, Crown Perth, HBF Stadium, Parliament House, Dome and many other leading hospitality and entertainment venues.”
With 11 LGAs across greater Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast in extended lockdown for the first part of August, the food rescue team in Queensland is continuing to respond to daily changes in our food rescue and deliveries landscape. Panic buying continues to put strain on food rescue volumes, while demand from those charities remaining open during lockdown is heightened. As an essential service, OzHarvest remains on the road delivering goodness across Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Cairns.
With demand for food relief rising daily OzHarvest is asking your help to deliver much needed hampers to vulnerable families to areas of Sydney most impact by the lockdown restrictions. An OzHarvest hamper will provide essential produce and pantry staples to feed two people.