A new food relief service operating in Ballan will provide support for people in the community slipping through the gaps.
Ballan disability support charity Keeley's Cause has partnered with Foodbank, Ballan Community House and Ballan Police Station to launch a food relief service in the town.
Keeley's Cause director Sharon Murphy said there had been no food relief service in Ballan previously which meant people who struggled to travel, particularly the elderly, were slipping through the gaps.
"Before us, Ballan people had to go to Bacchus Marsh or Ballarat for food relief," she said.
"There are so many elderly here who can't even get to the Foodbank in Bacchus Marsh or Ballarat.
"They are struggling silently because they are not able to access the service but they aren't telling people they need it either."
Keeley's Cause Foodbank is open at Ballan Community House on Thursdays from 10am to 12pm.
COVID was bad for everyone being in lockdown but when you are talking about a parent with a child with a disability and no access to the normal services they are usually able to get, it was a really trying time for some families.Sharon Murphy, Keeley's Cause
Foodbank delivers the food items to Ballan Police Station where volunteers pack them into hampers.
The idea stemmed from a 'giving day' Keeley's Cause ran in the lead up to Christmas, providing presents for disability families who had struggled particularly during COVID-19.
Ms Murphy said families had reported difficulty with everyday food costs, so the charity applied and were approved to partner with Foodbank.
"There is a real need for disability families to access food support. The disability families really struggled during COVID which is why we did the giving day," she said.
"COVID was bad for everyone being in lockdown but when you are talking about a parent with a child with a disability and no access to the normal services they are usually able to get, it was a really trying time for some families."
Ms Murphy said a decision was made to extend the service beyond disability families to everyone in the community after a request from Moorabool Shire.
Keeley's Cause has applied for a grant to expand the service to three days a week and create a dedicated service space.
If successful in the grant application, the service will be able to set up with a fridge to expand the offering from non-perishable items to include frozen and fresh foods.
Ms Murphy said one young woman who used the service last week said she struggled to afford rent, bills and food on the JobSeeker payment.
Food relief services statewide have reported people accessing their services for the first time during the pandemic due to job losses and other financial impacts.
"There are a lot of people struggling and doing it silently. Sometimes people just need that extra help," Ms Murphy said.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.