A BENDIGO initiative has reinvented itself to support every member of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday Food Safari started out as way to help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds gain skills and share their cuisine with others.
Each Friday, businesses and other groups of people in Bendigo would receive a delivery of tiffins - stainless steel lunch boxes filled with food made by community members from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
But Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services interim chief executive Rosita Vincent said that process had to change when the state government introduced COVID-19 restrictions.
"Once businesses closed, we realised that model would no longer work," she said. "We also became more aware of the needs of all of the community, not just the CALD communities we work with.
"For us, it's not just about the food relief. It was about recognising that we're all affected by isolation. We wanted to maintain that social connection."
With the changes, people are able to pre-order a meal via the Multicultural Services website. They can then pick up their Friday lunch from the Old Church on the Hill between 10am and 2pm.
Rather than eat the meal on site, people are encouraged to bring it home and reheat it. Members of the community can also donate a meal to someone who is more vulnerable.
The new process started on April 24. Ms Vincent said the first week was a major success for the program, with all 80 meals selling within two hours.
She said the organisation had the capacity to create 100 meals.
"What I like about it is the community development approach," Ms Vincent said. "Everyone is included in this. It's a level playing field because we all have that need to connect."
The initiative has been launched with the support of a number of partner organisations, including the City of Greater Bendigo, Bendigo Regional Food Alliance, and Rural Australians for Refugees.
To find out more and to order a meal, visit lcms.org.au/fridayfoodsafari/
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