Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Foodbank trials pilot food program in Echuca

Echuca is part of a pilot program delivering meals to low-income residents.

RUTH CLAYTON December 14, 2012 4:43am

Pauline Aitken provides food for those in need out of her garage as part of a pilot Foodbank program.

Echuca is one of two towns involved in a pilot program to deliver frozen family-sized meals to low-income residents.

Foodbank Victoria’s program, which is also being trialled in Wedderburn, recently delivered 200 family meals to residents in Echuca.

Foodbank is Victoria’s largest emergency relief resource centre.

Two-thirds of the food was delivered last Tuesday to Echuca resident Pauline Aitken, who runs a food drive from her garage year-round.

Mrs Aitken said the frozen food included sausage rolls, quiches and roast vegetables with pasta, which she kept in a double commercial freezer in her garage.

She said the program had been successful and was met with approval from recipients, some of whom did not have cooking facilities.

‘‘It’s just what we needed, I think it’s just great,’’ Mrs Aitken said.

Mrs Aitken said she had seen an increase in the amount of people requiring food recently.

Initially the service was mainly used by farmers struggling with the drought, but in more recent times people needing food came from all walks of life, she said.

‘‘Christmas is a very sad time for a lot of people who come here,’’ Mrs Aitken said.

‘‘Families have left them and it can be quite distressing... so to have a meal, it’s something.’’

Foodbank rural community support officer Brien Baxter said Foodbank had seen an increase in single-income families and an increase in demand for food from people on a low income.

Mr Baxter said across the board in Loddon Mallee over the past year they had experienced a 30 per cent increase in demand for food and welfare items.

Mr Baxter said from 2010 to 2011, Foodbank distributed 4100 tonnes of food in Victoria.

‘‘On top of that, we assist agencies to rescue food from supermarkets and from producers and growers and that’s another onemillion kilograms (1000 tonnes),’’ Mr Baxter said.

‘‘All up, we’re looking at around 5.1 million kilograms of food across Victoria per year.’’

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