As the winter frost descends on Victoria, the Daylesford Food Assistance Program is experiencing about 30 people come through its doors for each meal.
The program, which is run by volunteers and relies on donations, asks people to give any food or cash donations they can afford as the weather gets colder.
The program offers a hot breakfast to people in need on Tuesdays and a hot lunch on Thursdays.
Committee member and volunteer Kath Howard said volunteers try to help everyone who comes through the door.
“Whether it be for a coffee, a feed or a chat, we support everyone in a non-judgemental way.”
She said that people who approach them for help are a “mixed bag” and are not just the elderly, but also families and children.
“People don’t just come due to economic disadvantage. A lot of people also come for company because they are feeling down or lonely,” she said.
The program receives food and support from Istra Smallgoods, Daylesford Bakery and Coles, which gives food that does not meet stock quality standards and would otherwise be thrown out.
Daylesford Op Shop also helps by donating food and helping with the cost of rent.
Ms Howard said the support is fantastic, but at times volunteering can be challenging when stock is dwindling.
“It’s hard when people come in and we can’t give them too much because we don’t have the supplies to make up a big food package. We are always in need of more supplies,” she said.
Vice-president Annette Thomas said donations of non-perishable food are always welcome, but toiletries are welcome as well.
“A lot of people come in for lunch and then use the bathroom facilities at the Neighbourhood House. They tell me they had to pay their electricity bill so they couldn’t afford toiletries,” she said.
Ms Howard said although they are seeing many people come through the doors, there are also people who don’t want to be seen due to feeling shame and embarrassment.
For this reason, volunteers also deliver food packages to people directly if they call the number on their Facebook page.