Foodshare helping with the struggle
Moira Foodshare and Opportunity Shop manager Robin Harwood said the Moira Foodshare program, which is available in Yarrawonga, was introduced to help those struggling with funds to buy groceries and fill their stomachs.
“We work closely with other service providers to assist those who are in need and we also try to support each other so we can support those in need,” Robin said.
“Our service uses a voucher system where people are able to use our service up to six times a year, but if somebody comes in and is really struggling we are not going to turn them down – we are flexible, we have rules but at the same time we will support someone and follow them through so we know they’ll be ok.
“The vouchers will always say for how many people it is for and we will record some details for our books to know how much food is going out and how much each people may use the service.
“We also don’t want to pry into people’s personal lives and make them feel uncomfortable so
we generally just ask is there any other issues we can help you with, is there any other services that can support you? If we can reassure them they are not alone and we are here to support as well as other services then hope- fully these people will be ok and will be able to get back on track.”
The Moira Foodshare service is now one of the only in regional Victoria that provide round the clock assistance.
“We are really only officially open Monday, Wednesday and Friday but our service is always accessible on those days when we are not open,” Robin said.
“We now have a 24/7 service in the Moira Shire, where the shire can ring me or my two co-ordinators at any time of day or night with some issue and we can act immediately.
“Moira Shire is our main area but we’re also into Berrigan, Federation, Murrumbidgee and Lockhart shires.
“If they are going to lob on our doorstep you can bet they need food, we haven’t really had anybody who has abused the system but we basically encourage people to go to St Vincents de Paul in Witt St first because they are trained to talk to those people struggling and can provide them with a voucher for our service as well as linking them into other services they may require.”
Robin said he had a team of around 20 fantastic volunteers who come in to put hampers together and assist people when they come in to the ‘store’ requiring help.
“We have 20 volunteers who take it in terms to come in and prepare hampers, and who can also read people and hand some information on to me if need be,” Robin said.
“Our volunteers try and put a couple of boxes together for each family so that should last them for a week to 10 days.
“We rely on local producers but we also get an order from Foodbank Victoria each week of 300-400kgs of fresh produce and we can be fairly generous with our food because our supply is strong at the moment. “Foodbank Victoria is a big help to us. “There are lots of reasons for homelessness, often in no fault of their own but in this area there is not the itinerant work around that there used to be and that was often our biggest form of homelessness,” Robin said.
“The big thing here is we are a big growth centre so our rental prices have been pushed up and sometimes it is a struggle for people to be able to pay rent and buy food but we would like people to know there are services in our area which can provide assistance.”
The Hume Region Homelessness Network (HRHN) relating to the Homelessness in Goulburn Ovens Murray region report stated in January - March 2017, there were 1281 affordable properties available across the region.
In June – October of the same year there were 3288 households waiting for social housing
This means that there was a 2007 (61%) shortfall of affordable private rental properties for the number of people waiting.
The report also stated all 1281 affordable properties in July-September 2017 were all tenanted, which means that those on low-incomes/social housing wait lists missed out on accessing these properties.
Single men were also found to be generally pushed to the back of the queue as resources are dedicated primarily to families.
For single people fortunate enough to obtain private rentals, they pay in excess of 37% of their income on rent for a 1-bedroom property and 57% of their income on rent for a 2-bedroom property based on median rental prices, far exceeding the maximum national affordability benchmark of 30%.
The estimated national housing shortfall now predicts the numbers to be at 492,000 by 2021 and 663,000 by 2031.
Moira Foodshare Yarrawonga branch volunteers Barbara Eberle, Graham Eberle, Moira Foodshare and Opportunity Shop manager Robin Harwood and Jill Carr.