A LACK of transport is restricting Bendigo Foodshare’s supply of frozen and refrigerated goods, and registered agencies central Victoria are feeling the strain.
Schools, not-for-profit organisations and charitable organisations are among those cutting back on programs helping people who are struggling to afford and access food.
Bendigo Foodshare board chair Cathie Steele said the situation arose from a change in freight providers.
A lack of chilled transport means Bendigo Foodshare no longer has access to refrigerated food from Foodbank Victoria, from which it sources about 40 per cent of its food.
Foodbank Victoria changed its freight provider in January, after its previous provider went into voluntary administration.
“We know that this is resulting in reduced refrigerated and frozen stock for our registered agencies,” Ms Steele said.
“The refrigerated and frozen food for Central Victoria is still available for us in Melbourne, but we need to find ways to get it to Bendigo regularly.
“We are thus working with Foodbank Victoria to explore all options for chilled transport and are also seeking support from the community.”
She said Warrnambool Foodshare had developed a local solution to the logistics issue, which is affecting Foodshares throughout regional Victoria.
“So Bendigo should be able to do it,” Ms Steele said.
Help needed to curb hunger
BENDIGO Foodshare is hopeful the community it aids can offer some help in the form of refrigerated transport between Melbourne and Bendigo.
Its registered agencies have echoed the calls for support as their programs suffer from a limited supply of frozen and refrigerated products.
The Long Gully People’s Pantry had hoped 2018 would be a year of growth.
Although it has not lost members, co-ordinator Anthea Taylor said it could not expect to expand its user-base with limited stock.
“When we started the People’s Pantry I was really pleased it was the healthier stuff going,” she said.
“The supply of frozen and refrigerated foods [from Bendigo Foodshare] has virtually stopped – it’s just a trickle.”
Most of the supplied goods are now non-perishable.
She said the supply issues Bendigo Foodshare was experiencing were being felt in the households of People’s Pantry members.
“Their ability to make meals with what they get is diminished,” Mrs Taylor said.
Kyneton Caring Community operations manager Simon Furness said finding alternative sources of refrigerated and frozen food was not easy.
Without Bendigo Foodshare’s help, the not-for-profit organisation goes without.
Though it has been able to sustain its ‘fresh fruit Friday’ initiative, a program aiding children has been diminished.
The organisation provides food to almost 800 people in the Macedon Ranges area.
Bendigo TAFE staffer Leanne Hamilton said lunch and breakfast programs for students had been suspended.
“We were devastated to hear the news of the lack of supply of frozen and fresh goods,” she said.
“We teach our students the essential life skills of food preparation, cooking and storage using the goods supplied by Foodshare.
“We also work with and support young mums and their children, by using the goods to run nutritional cooking programs.
East Loddon P-12 College is investigating its options to finance the purchase of butter and margarine for its breakfast program.
“Accessing funds to make this purchase is an ongoing challenge for us,” school nurse Denise Leed said.
“It’s not part of the school budget.”
Bendigo Foodshare delivered about 600,000 kilograms of food through 60 schools and 40 charities last year.
Board chair Cathie Steele has urged anyone who can assist with transporting pallets of refrigerated or frozen goods from Melbourne to call 5444 3409 on weekday mornings.
The organisation would also welcome contact from prospective local suppliers of refrigerated and frozen products.