Back to the drawing board: Food hub plan suffers setback as Bendigo council looks for a new site

The former Crystal Industries ice factory on Garsed Street will remain empty for now, after it was found to not be "financially sustainable" to host a food hub.
The former Crystal Industries ice factory on Garsed Street will remain empty for now, after it was found to not be "financially sustainable" to host a food hub.

THE lack of a suitable location has forced the City of Greater Bendigo back to the drawing board in its efforts to establish a centralised food hub for the city’s community-based charitable food sharing groups.

The council endorsed a feasibility study in mid-2016 and set about finding an ideal location to store and then distribute the region’s surplus food.

The idea was to bring all of Bendigo’s food sharing groups under the same roof to share resources, warehouse space, cool rooms and delivery logistics to maximise the reach of surplus food for charitable organisations.

It would also contain a farmer’s market.

The former Crystal Industries site on Garsed Street was identified as the ideal location, but the council was unable to reach a deal with building owner ISPT.

City community projects co-ordinator Matthew Kerlin said the site was not “financially sustainable”.

He said other options were being investigated.

“The council is working with Bendigo Kangan Institute to identify an alternative site to complement their food and fibre centre of excellence,” Mr Kerlin said.

“Ideally it will be a site that will already have cold storage, and is a site that the council does not have to build from scratch.

“We are still confident that we’ll be able to get this idea up.”

The council consulted with the Bendigo Food Alliance, Bendigo Foodshare, Sustain Food Network and the Farming Advisory Committee in putting together the feasibility study.

The study was funded by $30,000 from the state government.

It found that Bendigo had a need for greater access to food sharing services. Bendigo’s food insecurity rate was 9.4 per cent, compared with the state average of 5.6 per cent.

The proportion of low income households in Bednigo was 14.3 per cent. The state average is 12 per cent.

The council remains in discussions with TAFE over the idea, but progress is not expected for some time as TAFE continues to complete the $17.7 million food and fibre centre of excellence at the Charleston Road campus.

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