Fresh fruit and vegetables fill black plastic tubs on tables in the back room of the Daylesford RSL. Annette and Alan Thomas filled the tubs on their trip to Bendigo Foodshare on Wednesday, a weekly journey to collect produce for the Daylesford Food Assistance Program.
The couple have been running the food program since 2014 and are hoping to reach more people who need a helping hand. They plan to build the organisation before expanding food assistance to other areas in the shire.
Mrs Thomas said the food assistance program was necessary because many were homeless, needy or struggling in Hepburn Shire.
“We cover everybody. Anybody who is needy, struggling, homeless, it doesn’t matter, we don’t judge,” she said.
The volunteer-run program believes it is a “fundamental community responsibility” everyone has access to nutritious food. The team offer a cooked breakfast and food parcel collections at the Daylesford Senior Citizens Hall on Tuesday. A community cooked lunch and food hamper collection is available on Thursday. They are hoping to expand services to other areas like Creswick in coming years.
“Anybody can come in and get free food and and have a free lunch or breakfast,” Mrs Thomas said.
“We know some people who have just lost their partner, then lost their job on top of it and lost their car and it just keeps rolling on. We have people who can’t afford to get rentals or can’t afford to live anywhere and they are living in the bush. We also have a lady who can’t work because she fractured her spine in a car accident. She can’t work so how is she going to get money in for food? She can’t lift, she can’t do anything so we take her food parcels.”
A lot of people are so grateful they come up and they just hug us and say 'thank you I wouldn’t be able to feed the kids'.Daylesford Food Assistance Program volunteer Annette Thomas
The food collected from Bendigo Foodshare is sourced from supermarkets, local suppliers and Foodbank in Melbourne.
“Sometimes from Bendigo Foodshare we get icecreams and that is a nice treat for a family because they can’t afford to buy things like that for their kids,” Mrs Thomas said.
“We have had a lot of memorable moments. Everyday is great because we can see the smiles on people’s faces and the gratitude that they are getting something they wouldn’t normally get.”