RACV’s recipe for relief
As demand for food relief continues in regional communities, RACV volunteers deliver their 100,000th meal.
RACV has reached a significant milestone in its emergency goods assist service, delivering its 100,000th meal to Victorians in need of food relief.
The service, which commenced in March last year, draws on RACV staff volunteers to deliver meals prepared in the City Club kitchens to frontline relief agencies around the state. As demand has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the service has expanded from metropolitan Melbourne to Ballarat, Gippsland, the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, as well as Shepparton, where earlier this month, RACV delivered its 100,000th meal.
Like many regional centres, Shepparton has been hit hard by the fallout from COVID-19. Shepparton Foodshare, which supports 110 grassroots services in the local area and across the Moira, Mitchell, Murrindindi and Strathbogie shires, experienced an 80 per cent surge in demand for food at the height of the pandemic.
Among the frontline agencies it supports is Shepparton Family and Financial Services, where emergency relief support worker Julie Pascoe says: “Probably about 30 per cent of our clientele would never have asked for help in their life before COVID.”
Julie says the RACV emergency goods assist meals, which are packed in plastic pouches, are especially welcome for the city’s homeless population. “Even if they have nothing else they have a campfire and a pot to boil water and it’s something easy they can heat up,” she says.
“There’s a big, big need in the Shepparton area,” Julie says. “Probably 30 per cent of our clients are ‘no fixed address’. Some have tents, some don’t, some couch surf then end up living back down by the river.” She says this was the fate of a pair of Queenslanders after they were shut off from their home by border closures last year.
Julie expects client numbers to keep rising in coming months as Jobkeeper payments and banks’ mortgage deferrals wind up. “A lot of people have used Afterpay and credit cards just to cover Christmas costs and then in coming months it’s going to fall apart because when the bill comes in the money’s not there.”