Hundreds of people in Ballarat are still going hungry, and the situation has gotten worse during the pandemic crisis, but massive grants from the Ballarat Foundation will help our most vulnerable residents get more of the support they need.
A total of 17 organisations, focused mainly on food security and supporting young people, were selected, and more than $105,000 will be handed out.
Also among the projects were BADAC's Mirriyu Mob program, and Centacare's refuge for families escaping domestic violence.
Two crucial food security initiatives were the recipients for The Courier Charity Fund, with $15,000 for Uniting Ballarat's Meals for Change cafe program, and $10,000 for the Salvation Army Ballarat's Grocery Box program.
Ballarat Foundation chief executive Andrew Eales said the need for support had never been greater.
"What we've seen through our grant applications this year is there has been heightened need from community organisations and service providers who will be doing it really tough during these times, and they'll be supporting their clients, their program participants, who are also facing challenges like we've never seen before," he said.
"Food security has been such a driver of conversation for our organisation and many others in the community in the last six months, so we're really pleased we've been able to support some key projects that we think will deliver great outcomes for people dealing with food insecurity.
"I think homelessness is something that, while there's been some changes in how governments and organisations have been dealing with through the lockdowns, but we saw some applications in that space, and in early childhood development, we had a number of applications - this is going to be the key thing if you look at the long term - how do we continue to support our young people, many of whom had this unique education experience this year, but also those that are looking to what they do next, those that may go on to further study or are looking for work, what does that environment look like?"
The two projects supported by The Courier Charity Fund this year are great examples of the community working together, Mr Eales added.
"It reinforces the collaborative approach we've seen in response to the pandemic in Ballarat - it's a great signpost for what you can do when you work together, and I think that's been really heartening for us at the Foundation in the last six months, to have seen the community come together, and I think (those projects are) another great example of how that works," he said.
Uniting Ballarat will receive a total of $25,000 across two projects - as well as $15,000 for the Meals for Change program, the Breezeway in central Ballarat will also receive $10,000.
Program coordinator Jennifer Wright said there had been a 50 per cent increase in people attending Breezeway for a free meal in the past month, and the added restrictions had increased costs.
"It costs us about $200 a week just for takeaway packaging," she said.
"We're providing not only hot meals each day, but we're providing a takeaway sandwich pack as well, that's two meals per day per person - Breezeway's not government funded, so everything we serve, we have to source."
Ms Wright said work is continuing on a major upgrade for the site so it can offer more services, but the focus on getting food to people who need it remains the priority.
"It's a service which you don't have to qualify for, you just have to walk in off the street hungry, and we don't judge anybody who comes through the door - if you walk in an you're hungry, you get fed," she said.
"We're starting to see families - iIt's when they get hit with a bill, and they're not necessarily one of our regular cohorts, so we might see them once or twice then we won't see them again until the next bill.
"We aren't seeing a lot, but we are seeing some, and it's worrying to see just one family."
Ms Wright and Mr Eales said if people can give to charity, there has never been a more important time to do so.
"Whatever we get, we appreciate - cash makes it easier because we can target the areas where we're short, but food's welcome as well," Ms Wright said.
"We're always very appreciative."
FULL LIST OF RECIPIENTS
- $10,000 for Uniting Ballarat for the Breezeway Meals Program
- $2,500 for the Phoenix College Breakfast Club
- $7,125 for the Wendouree Neighbourhood Centre Inc Live, Learn, Connect project
- $4,590 for Compassionate Ballarat for Developing Emotional Intelligence in Ballarat's Kindergarten Children
- $5,000 for the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre for Feed Local, Free Food Fridays application
- $10,000 for Centacare Housing Services for the Wombelano providing safe, secure refuge for women and children escaping domestic violence
- $1,000 for the Delacombe Gardening Club
- $2,855 for Mercy Connect - Refugee Student Mentoring
- $7,733 to the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council for Thrive: Multicultural Communities Grow Fresh Food
- $5,000 for the The Salvation Army LARF mentoring program
- $5,000 to Eureka Mums for the The First 1000 Days Project
- $8000 for the Ballarat & District Aboriginal Cooperative Limited (BADAC) for the Mirriyu Mob (Today's Mob - Waddawurrung Language)
- The Courier Charity Fund:
- $15,000 to Uniting's Meals for Change Cafe Meals Program
- $10,000 for the Salvation Army Ballarat Grocery Box program.
- The Peter Amor Sports Participation Fund:
- $5000 Sebastopol Football Netball Club
- $5000 Ballarat City Football Club
- $2060 Mt Clear Cricket Club
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