News

More volunteers needed to meet demand

By John Lewis

A Shepparton charity food distribution centre manager has called for more volunteers to help keep the place running and meet increasing demand.

Goulburn Valley Community Care and Emergency Relief, which partners with Foodbank Victoria, has put out the call ahead of National Volunteer Week from May 20.

The Shepparton centre’s manager Lyn McKay said 15 volunteers helped run the Campbell St facility four days a week but more helpers were needed.

‘‘We would love to provide food relief to the community five days a week and to do this we simply need more volunteers,’’ Ms McKay said.

‘‘The demand is there,’’ she said.

She said the small warehouse was open from 10am to 3pm and staff often offered food packages to up to 140 people a week.

‘‘Some days we get about 30 or 32 clients knocking on the door,’’ she said.

Ms McKay said fresh and packaged food was handed out to all people.

‘‘They can be people who have fallen on hard times, they might be unemployed or been in hospital, or homeless. Some people come three times a week because they can’t store food in the bush. Nobody gets turned away,’’ she said.

Volunteers too came from various backgrounds.

‘‘They can be students or work for the dole people or anyone who is fit and energetic,’’ Ms McKay said.

‘‘We have to load and unload food trucks, unpack pallets and stack shelves.’’

The food comes from a variety of sources, including supermarkets and Shepparton Foodshare.

Foodbank Victoria chief executive Dave McNamara said volunteers were an integral part of addressing food insecurity across the state.

He said last year, 2721 individuals volunteered almost 30000 hours of time to Foodbank Victoria, helping to distribute the equivalent of 15 million meals.

‘‘It’s an honour and a privilege to see how many dedicated Victorians are continually motivated to join our cause and share in our vision of healthy food for all,’’ Mr McNamara said.

He said with increasing demand for food relief, Victorian charities were being forced to turn away close to 12000 individuals each month due to a lack of resources, including volunteers.

To help link potential volunteers with charities, Foodbank Victoria hosts an online map at www.foodbank.org.au/volunteermap