No matter what is happening in the lives of the community, the Seventh Day Adventist Good Samaritan Centre is always there for support, in the form of food, clean clothing or simply a chat over a hot cuppa.
Up to 12 volunteers run a food pantry service at the Wendouree centre on Thursday each week, offering grocery bags of fresh fruit, vegetables and staples for a donation price.
Ballarat Seventh Day Adventist church lay pastor Danny Swanton said the program had been popular since beginning in May 2017.
“We get a range of different people coming in. There are people who are at rock bottom. There are people who are casual workers you might see one month and then they might disappear for six months because they have had enough work, but when that work dies down again they are back in here for the service,” Mr Swanton said.
Volunteers collect rescued food supplied by Foodbank in Melbourne and separate a mix of fresh produce and staple items like pasta into individual grocery bags.
Between 60 and 70 bags are packed each week at the Ballarat centre. About 20 are sent to the Good Samaritan Centre in Maryborough.
Everyone has a different range of problems and everyone needs a friend. We just want to show them they are cared for in a no judgement environment.Danny Swanton, lay pastor
But Mr Swanton said the service was about more than food.
“Even though the food is getting them through the week we want to be able to be there for them, sympathise with their problems, mingle with them and just let them know that they are cared about,” Mr Swanton said.
Each bag of groceries can be bought for a donation of $5 which is put back into the community.
“We have purchased a $250 voucher for menswear for a man who needed new clothes,” Mr Swanton said.
“We have bought a couple of fridges to help us store the fresh fruit and veggies and we helped a lady out with petrol so she could get to her job. That has been really important for us because most of the people who do come in here have greater needs.”
The Seventh Day Adventist Good Samaritan Centre in Wendouree is open 12pm to 1pm on Thursday each week for the food pantry service.