The OzHarvest Mobile Market is not the usual iconic yellow … yet. But thanks to a quick and generous hire of two Thrifty trucks, we were able to get this initiative on the road quickly to help meet the increasing need for food relief in rural communities. Starting in NSW in late May, the mobile market has clocked up over 4,000 kilometres so far, visiting 16 communities and distributed 1,000 bags of fresh, healthy groceries.
Each week our intrepid team start a new journey to deliver emergency food relief to those doing it tough in parts of the country that often feel forgotten. Working with our inspirational, long-serving OzHarvest volunteers in regional chapters provides invaluable local insight, connecting the mobile market to those individuals in danger of falling through the cracks.
OzHarvest OMM project lead Gabriella Dal Pozzo was moved after seeing the need in bush-fire affected communities in South NSW.
“Several people were crying happy tears when they saw the fresh fruit and veggies. Drought, travel expense and income loss has prevented families from accessing vegetables for over six months and many lost their own veggie patches and chickens. They are still fighting for survival amongst half-complete disaster clean ups and trying to find hope, but it’s extremely tough and complex to access aid out there, despite many other great local initiatives doing life-saving work day to day. We were happy to see neighbours reconnecting at the mobile market and having meaningful conversations that have been too stifled since the fires and ongoing drought strain. The feedback from individuals has been so moving. Each person in a fire or drought affected town has had their own stressful journey, yet they still meet us with warmth and gratitude, evident even when words can’t quite be found.”
Thanks to the support of our existing regional volunteers, the mobile market has been able to engage with local communities and understand the need from town to town. In the tiny town of Quirindi 380 kms North West of Sydney, local volunteer Colleen Wills and the Country Women’s Association came out in force to help.
“The OzHarvest Market visit to Quirindi was a huge success, with an overwhelmingly positive response from the community. Carers from the Uniting church and HomeCare received bags of groceries to deliver to the elderly who are self-isolating, along with several drought-affected families supported through the local pre-school and patients from Walhallow Clinic. There was wonderful local support from the CWA, with plenty of conversations and many new acquaintances met. It was a cold day and the OzHarvest team were freezing, so we organised some thermals to keep them warm! No one left empty handed and at the end of the day there were only two left, plus a box of apples, potatoes and carrots for distribution. Beanies, scarves and wraps were donated from CWA to the homeless sent back with the team. A big thank you to all – we’re all in it together.”
Colleen Wills, Quirindi CWA
Currently, NSW State government funding allows OzHarvest to purchase produce from local independent groceries suppliers, with plans to expand and source directly from independent farmer networks later in the year.
So far, the OzHarvest Mobile Market has supported NSW communities in Kiah, Wyndham, Cobargo, Mogo, Jervis Bay (Wreck Bay), Quirindi, Uralla, Merriwa, Murrundi, Dunedoo and Curlewis. Plans are underway to organise over 150 more pop-up markets in regional NSW communities, providing as much regularity to locals as possible, but additional funding will be the key to offer this service beyond November. Other states are also looking at introducing a similar mobile service to help address demand.