Bendigo Foodshare appeals for chilled transport to Melbourne as fresh, frozen food stocks dwindle at agencies

BREAD, a few bottles of milk, several bags of carrots, some quiches and chicken pieces.

That’s about the sum of the sum of the fresh and frozen food in the fridges at Bendigo Family and Financial Services on Monday morning.

The strain of a lack of chilled transport between Bendigo Foodshare and Foodbank Victoria’s warehouse, in Melbourne, is affecting our region’s most vulnerable residents.

Central Victorian agencies were already despairing at the effects of Foodbank Victoria’s freight issues when the story broke last month.

They remain hopeful a solution will be devised as their services struggle with limited food supplies.

Bendigo Foodshare’s support has enabled Bendigo Family and Financial Services to provide clients with food as part of its emergency response program.

“It’s very difficult to run a program where we’re saying we’ll support you with food while we get your financial situation under control if we haven’t got the food to give them,” Bendigo Family and Financial Services general manager Jenny Elvey said.

About 50-60 families access the program each week.

More than 400 people are registered for food with the Giving and Living Op Shop in East Bendigo – another of Bendigo Foodshare’s registered agencies.

“Before, we could rely on getting milk, fruit and vegetables,” Evelyn Robertson said.

The limited supply of fresh and frozen food flowing from Foodbank Victoria to Bendigo Foodshare has forced the op shop to reduce the number of items available to each person.

“It just doesn’t go far enough,” Mrs Robertson said.

“We’re doing all we can but it’s such a struggle.”

Bendigo Foodshare chair Cathie Steele said she had appealed to Bendigo’s state and federal members for help.

While she said Lisa Chesters, Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards were keen to help, a solution had yet to materialise. 

“We still are desperate,” Ms Steele said.

She urged anyone who could help with transporting pallets of refrigerated or frozen goods from Melbourne to call 5444 3409 on weekday mornings.