Ballarat’s new soup bus is widening the charity’s food relief reach.
The On Track Foundation, which runs the Ballarat soup bus, is now servicing the Sebastopol area.
Volunteers working from new soup bus Jono offer a hot meal, friendly face and supplies to those in need on a Monday and Tuesday night in Sebastopol.
On Track Foundation board member Anthony Stephens said the number of people accessing the service in Sebastopol had increased in recent months.
“Sebastopol is an area where people can’t always afford to get into central location. This gives an opportunity to those that have no means of getting into town,” he said.
“A young couple came to the bus on one of the first nights. They said it was the best thing because they couldn’t always afford to make the journey into town. It has created an opportunity for people who may otherwise not get a meal that evening.”
It has created an opportunity for people who may otherwise not get a meal that evening.Anthony Stephens, On Track Foundation
The soup bus is continuing its central Ballarat meal service from Sunday through to Thursday night at the Senior Citizens Centre.
The original soup bus is undergoing renovation and is expected to return to to service the Wendouree area in 2019.
Mr Stephens said the demand for food relief in Ballarat was growing.
“The numbers at Sebastopol that are increasing are not affecting numbers attending our central location. There is more people out there we previously haven’t been able to reach,” he said.
“Our mission is that we will cater for Wendouree, central Ballarat and the Sebastopol and Delacombe area.”
Take a tour of the new soup bus below.
On average, around 12 people visit the soup bus in Sebastopol, while the soup service in Ballarat Central sees around 50 to 60 people on any given night.
Mr Stephens explained the soup bus was not only about feeding the homeless.
“It is about servicing people who are doing it tough through broken marriage, job loss or a number of various reasons,” he said.
“We don’t judge. We will always give people a meal and food to take away when they need it.”
For others, visiting the service is about companionship.
Watch the video below.
The On Track Foundation also offers education scholarships for children who may otherwise not be going to school, with an aim to break the cycle of disadvantage at a young age.
“We have had a few graduates on scholarships finish year 12. They were heading down the path of being on the streets and now they have gone on to university,” Mr Stephens said.
Around 300 volunteers help run Ballarat’s soup bus service. The organisation relies on donations for food and funding.
The Soup Bus Ball, the organisations biggest yearly fundraising event, will be held on November 17.
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