COMMUNITY leaders and senior welfare decision makers are set to start planning what a food hub might look like and how it might work for Ballarat.
A strategic planning forum early next month will be the first key step in a coordinated approach to tackle the region’s food insecurity.
Ballarat Community Health chief executive officer Robyn Reeves said food insecurity was a complex and widespread issue that needed all agencies on the same page to ensure the broadest, most effective impact.
“Thinking about food security is not just about supply, it’s also about access to quality food and freshness,” Ms Reeves said.
“We know Victorians don’t add enough fruit and vegetables in their diet and often these foods can be more expensive. It’s also about having appropriate water available and people knowing what is best to access.
“It is complex and there are a lot of groups out there helping, so we’re looking to streamlining their efforts in a food hub.”
BCH and Ballarat Foundation signed an agreement on Friday to form the Ballarat Community Food Security Partnership Project.
Ballarat Foundation, which The Courier supports, has committed funding to create an integrated response from the region’s welfare groups, which have begun sharing resources for food relief initiatives under Food Access Network.
Food security is one of four priority areas the foundation is working to improve in the community.
Ballarat Foundation chairman Wayne Weaire said access to a good food supply was vital to promote learning at school and focus in the workplace.
“If we’re going to have a strong community, we need access to food and we need access to education. Providing security around food is really important,” Mr Weaire said.
“We must be careful about distinguishing between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, too, because food insecurity can expressly happen to anyone and at anytime. It’s about how we maintain dignity.”
Food Access Network members also include City of Ballarat, Central Highland Primary Care Partnership, Salvation Army, Uniting Care, Anglicare, Soup Bus, YMCA, Hepburn Health, Laneway Food is Free, Golden Plains Shire, Link Up Ballarat SC, Wellbeing Wendouree, Permaculture Guild, Rowan View Preschool and Harvest Ministry of Food.