A Bayswater-based organisation is one of many services seeing the need for emergency food relief grow in recent times.
The Temple Society Australia and its outreach arm, Champion, received almost $10,000 in funding from Council last year to buy meat and eggs and assist with prescription medication.
Council has recently conducted an audit of its emergency food relief funding program to better understand ongoing challenges experienced by providers, as many residents grapple with rising costs of living and higher interest rates place further strain on household budgets.
Temple Society Australia community outreach officer Sarah Horsnell says visitors from all walks of life are accessing the free food hub at Bayswater.
“Last month, we had double the number of visitors compared to the month before,” she says. “Within two weeks, we had hit our quota for the month. We have all different ages that come and visit us.
"We have 20-year-olds who are working and finding it hard to pay their bills. We have people with disabilities on pensions that are finding it hard to pay their rent. Then we have people that are on Newstart and the elderly.”
Sarah says the centre, which is supported by about 30 volunteers, sees many visitors to the food hub who are experiencing other issues.
“We get a lot of visitors experiencing family violence or rental and financial issues,” she says. “We are seeing visitors to our centre who are paying 70-80 per cent of their income towards rents and mortgages. The cost of basic living is rising and we are really seeing the rippling effects of this across our community.
“It’s a little food hub but it’s more of a ‘front door’ service for all of these other issues involved. Food is just the conduit for the people to come and speak with us, build relationships and share their stories.”
An outcome of the audit is that Council has established a task force with emergency relief providers to improve collaboration, partnerships and sharing of resources.
Emergency relief: knox.vic.gov.au/relief-providers