FRONTLINE food relief providers have welcomed a huge early donation in what they say is already crunch time with bare shelves with pressures on families growing.
Ballarat's leading welfare organisations have found demand from families seeking help is rising earlier than usual ahead of winter months amid the increasing cost in food, fuel, and the ripple effects of interest rates on housing.
Blake Family Grocers gifted 16 pallets of foods and other grocery staples in a bid to boost offerings before Ballarat's annual winter appeal, headlined by 3BA, kicks in.
Radio Ballarat general manager John Fitzgibbon said providers were relying on the big delivery.
People are really struggling with the cost of living.- John Fitzgibbon, Radio Ballarat general manager
"They need to get their stock levels up," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"Providers are telling us throughout the pandemic there are larger households where children with their children might return to live with mum and dad. This is exacerbated by low rental availability and low crisis housing stock.
"People are really struggling with the cost of living."
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St Vincent de Paul volunteers Alan West and Frank Stuart said they were doing all they could to help families, including with vouchers, but all the signs were pointing to an even tougher winter ahead.
"People in general don't often realise what welfare issues there are," Mr Stuart said. "The members at St Vinnies have seen these issues grow and grow."
Ballarat welfare agencies continue to report more middle-to-low income families needing extra support.
Mr Fitzgibbon said many families were reluctant to ask for help because they felt others were worse off - but he made clear there was no shame in asking for help and reaching out to Ballarat's welfare organisations.
The Blake Family Grocers' donation will directly support Ballarat families via St Vincent de Paul, Uniting Ballarat, Anglicare and the Salvation Army.
O'Neil Transport was on hand to ensure the pallets were delivered to all four providers on Wednesday morning.
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