Help­ing the hun­gry through food re­lief

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - NEWS - Peter Mathews, B eech­worth

PETER Mathews was born in Swan Hill, grew up in Mel­bourne and has lived in Beech­worth for 17 years. What’s your job? I man­age, with the help of 110 vol­un­teers, Al­bury Wodonga Re­gional FoodShare from a ware­house at Wodonga TAFE. We res­cue food and make it avail­able to 122 emer­gency food re­lief providers and 70 schools across our re­gion, which in­cor­po­rates 10 lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas in both Vic­to­ria and NSW. The food we dis­trib­ute is the equiv­a­lent of 25,000 meals per week. On a lo­cal level, both Quer­cus and the Sal­va­tion Army Beech­worth and the Beech­worth schools use food from FoodShare to pro­vide emer­gency re­lief and food pro­grams to peo­ple in need in our com­mu­nity. What brought you to this role? I have al­ways worked in food and as­so­ci­ated in­dus­tries. As a con­sul­tant I was en­gaged to write the busi­ness plan to es­tab­lish a fully in­te­grated food res­cue and sup­ply ware­house to sup­port emer­gency food re­lief agen­cies and a school’s pro­gram in Al­bury Wodonga. What do you love about your job? I know FoodShare pro­vides much-needed food to peo­ple in need. I en­joy the in­ter­ac­tion with the re­lief agen­cies and schools we part­ner with, the vol­un­teers who bring so many dif­fer­ent skills to their in­volve­ment, and the gen­er­ous donors, who make it pos­si­ble. What do you do in the com­mu­nity? I have been in­volved with Quer­cus Beech­worth for about five years, cur­rently the chair, and am also in­volved in the Wodonga Lo­cal Food Net­work. I was the founding trea­surer for Beech­worth Land­care and for about 10 years con­tin­ued in that role, and I was heav­ily in­volved in the Myrtle­ford Soc­cer Club board and can­teen for many years.

What’s the most im­por­tant cur­rent com­mu­nity is­sue for you?

Sup­port­ing peo­ple who slip through the cracks, mak­ing sure food and other ma­te­rial aid is avail­able for peo­ple and that it is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble across the re­gion.

What would you do to solve, change or im­prove that sit­u­a­tion?

En­cour­age all lev­els of govern­ment to play a big­ger role in food se­cu­rity and al­le­vi­at­ing poverty. We need to sup­port our com­mu­nity and de­velop re­silience skills so peo­ple can fully take part in their com­mu­nity.

What’s the most im­por­tant cur­rent world is­sue for you?

Firstly, cli­mate change. More and more ev­i­dence is com­ing out that shows hu­mans are not tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the dam­age we are do­ing to the planet. Sec­ondly, eq­ui­table wealth dis­tri­bu­tion, where in many parts of the world the wealth of the coun­try is not fairly dis­trib­uted, thus cre­at­ing poverty and the refugee crises we see across the globe.

If the per­son you’d most like to meet came to In­digo, or was al­ready here, who would that be and what would you show them?

Any refugee. I would love to talk to them about their life and the rea­sons for leav­ing their own coun­try. I would wel­come them to our town, make them feel safe and of­fer them a role in our com­mu­nity. Not only would their life be bet­ter, our whole com­mu­nity would grow in knowledge and un­der­stand­ing of how we can all do more to help oth­ers.

Why would you show them that?

Be­cause there are many in the Beech­worth com­mu­nity who have much to of­fer peo­ple in dire cir­cum­stances – the ben­e­fits would be a rev­e­la­tion. What book are you read­ing?

Richard Flanagan’s ‘First Per­son’, and Ge­of­frey Robert­son’s mem­oirs, ‘Rather his own man’, ‘Kevin Sheedy – Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy’ (I’m a big Bombers fan).

HU­MAN­I­TAR­IAN: Beech­worth’s Peter Matthews pro­vides food to peo­ple in need through Al­bury Wodonga Re­gional FoodShare which aims to pre­vent hunger around the re­gion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.