Geelong Food Relief Centre, Collin

Free food for the needy! ‘The Geelong Food Relief Centre provides a facility where those living in a variety of difficult circumstances can receive a range of free food. Our clients are referred to the centres in North Geelong and Geelong CBD via local welfare agencies. We are the second largest regional food bank operation for emergency food relief in Victoria.’ We hear from Collin Peebles GFRC CEO.

Geelong Food Relief

‘There are over 90 volunteers attached to the facility. Last year I nominated one of our longstanding volunteers, Stephen Spoors, for the Kardinia Rotary Club ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’ which I am proud to say he received. I’ve done a lot of volunteering over the years myself and have worked with many volunteers and Stephen’s dedication stood out. He is one for putting those in need well before himself, regardless of the weather or other circumstances. He is the sort of volunteer who also makes the place tick behind the scenes by using his leadership skills to co-ordinate many volunteers who work at the North Geelong Centre. He is focused on providing the very best service while creating a compassionate and dignified environment for those requiring emergency relief.

‘Both sites are similar to small supermarkets where people can grab a trolley and select the foods they actually need and aren’t allergic to. We’ve found over the years that this works better than the food hamper method. Those identified by welfare agencies ‘pay’ for the goods with a colour co-ordinated food voucher worked out on a point system. Vouchers vary from 10 points to 50, with 20 point able to get a family the equivalent of $100 worth of food. We aim to get as much food into their pantries and fridges as possible.

‘My message to the people of Geelong is unfortunately we are the busiest we’ve been in our 27 year history. If you ever have a surplus of any food items, including fruits and vegetables please consider donating to us. It is estimated that 36,000 people living within our region will use our service this financial year, that’s 1 in 10.

‘We are a Not-For-Profit Charity and rely heavily upon donated food and the relationships we have built throughout our region with businesses and individuals. Food drives at schools also help. Our Mini marts at both sites, need to be well stocked in order to meet demand.

‘Three times a week Secondbite collects food from us that they can redirect. A bulk distribution service also operates from the centre to meet the needs of agencies operating community pantries or similar. We supply this service to over 40 welfare agencies and organisations in the Greater Geelong region, Bellarine, Surf Coast and Winchelsea areas. ‘The centre also works in conjunction with welfare officers at schools and early learning centres in the region to provide emergency food vouchers to families in need. Each year around 75,000kg of food was distributed in this way. School groups visit the centre on a regular basis to learn about Food Security issues in the region. Students also are involved in cooking programs where produce from the centre is made into meals and offered to clients using the centre.

‘We are very proud of our new Geelong Food Relief Centre van, funds for this came from fundraising done by Geelong Grammar students.’

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