People struggling to afford every day essentials will have more options to seek help with the expansion of a Ballarat food relief program.
Seventh Day Adventist Church officially launched its new food relief facility Soul+Food at Wendouree on Tuesday.
It comes as services record a continuing increase in demand for support driven by complex factors including unaffordable housing and rising costs of living putting pressure on budgets.
Since the service opened in 2017, we have seen a doubling of people that are attending the centre.- John Meaney, Soul+Food Centre
Soul+Food director John Meaney said the new service would give people more choice about what food and items they could select and better meet the increasing need.
"Historically we have been meeting the needs of about 150 plus people," he said.
"Since the service opened in 2017, we have seen a doubling of people that are attending the centre.
"I think that is an indication of the level of food insecurity people experience."
Mr Meaney said many people using the service were experiencing unemployment, living in their cars or fleeing domestic violence.
He said aged pensioners were struggling to make ends meet, with around 30 per cent of service attendees above the age of 60.
"I would expect increasing cost of food and petrol would be very impactful currently for people who are in the most vulnerable demographic," he said.
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A $67,000 Victorian Government food relief grant funded the construction of a warehouse at the Seventh Day Adventist Church Wendouree site.
People will be able to visit the warehouse on Thursday mornings to 'shop' for what they need, for a $5 donation.
The new warehouse will be fitted out to stock fresh and frozen food as well as pantry staples.
Storage and volunteer work had previously been completed in the church's kitchen and storage room, which was limiting due to its size.
The church first started its food relief service initially called the Good Samaritan Centre in 2017 to respond to a need for food relief in the community, beginning with the distribution of 25 grocery packs a week.
It expanded to offering 40 to 60 grocery packs for people in need on Thursday morning each week and transported 12 bags for distribution at the church in Maryborough.
Eight volunteers run the new Soul+Food centre, which is an adjustment to the previous model.
They plan to run social programs to combat isolation and education courses on cooking and nutrition as part of the service.
People in need can visit Soul+Food on Thursdays from 11am to 1pm.
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