FAST-growing food insecurity in Ballarat is an issue that rallies this city into action. You see it in the long-term support for community-driven initiatives like the annual 3BA Christmas Appeal and, particularly leading into winter, its spin-off the Christmas in July Appeal. Or in how Food is Free Laneway evolved from the doorstep of concerned resident.
But a four-minute film has been described as “wake-up call” Ballarat needs to realise the extent and complexity of access to food, and especially to fresh, nutritious foods.
Ballarat Foundation has showcased the film to launch a call to action, seeking $3.5 million in government and community support to bring a Foodbank warehouse to Ballarat, a not-for-profit organisation.
It might make you feel uncomfortable, but needs attention: 12 per cent of the Ballarat population experiences food insecurity and of these people, 78 per cent are moderately to severely hungry. And we are the only major regional city in the state without a Foodbank partnership.
- READ MORE:The bid for Foodbank in Ballarat
The Foodbank concept is to improve access and distribution of fresh food in Ballarat to charities working in food relief. This would build on existing food services and community meal programs challenges and help to be the link in overcoming barriers of transport and food handling.
Ballarat Community Health food expert Katherine Cape said a food bank would increase the ability to rescue food, but also improve storage and distribution. But Ms Cape said we also need to think more broadly and sustainably.
This could include community gardens, like the beds set to expand at the YMCA Delacombe community hub, to build up free food supply and promote simple home-cooked cheap and healthy meals.
Acute pressure on existing welfare across the region is intensifying with increased housing, and energy costs. Welfare experts say food tends to become perceived a discretionary factor people cut back on – something to forgo to try and get by.
There are incredible programs in already place, like the Seventh Day Adventist Good Samaritan Centre travelling to Melbourne to collect supplies from Foodbank.
Foodbank Victoria also funds about 20 school breakfast programs in Ballarat to help children have a nutritious start to a big day of learning. A hub in Ballarat would be a big step to work with welfare agencies and community partners to ensure everyone in the Grampians region has this same chance.
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