Our guest speaker Jonathon Clarke from the Geelong Food Bank gave an interesting presentation on the work of the Geelong Food Bank outlining the increase in demand on their ever stretched resources to satisfy their client needs. The Food Bank is currently supplying food to a number of welfare agencies as well as schools for those in need. The demand is forever increasing with their biggest issues being funding and warehouse space for the food received for distribution.

Jonathon moved to Geelong from Melbourne over 4 years ago, and was involved in public awareness campaigns and marketing.

Did you know that 85,000 meals are provided each day in Melbourne, for those that are homeless and hungry. Unlike Melbourne, the situation in Geelong is underground and is not visible unless you have a discerning eye.

With these qualifications Jonathon is more than qualified to take on the Geelong Food Bank. The Food Bank began through providing breakfast meals for school students. Jonathon  set up a breakfast program at Whittington Primary School. Now the program provides a 2 course meal for breakfast, fruit for morning tea, a 3 course meal for lunch and the students are then given vouchers so they can be given food to take home for tea. Apart from the breakfast program at schools Jonathon also provides food at the Outpost and sometimes cooks there as well. The Outpost is now at the Geelong Bus Terminal. People are seated on café style seating and many are outside waiting for meals. Unfortunately, there are no cooking facilities there so the food has to be cooked elsewhere and then brought in and reheated.

 

The Geelong Food Bank is currently housed in 2 sheds on a secure property in Breakwater, Geelong. They were given a freezer, refrigeration and storage facilities when the Penguin Frozen Foods closed down last year.

Wednesday morning is often their busiest time, when there will be over 100 trucks that come down to unload from the State Food Bank in Melbourne and other food companies. Then there are the community organisations coming to pick up as well.

Future plans are, to move to a larger warehouse, where all the pallets are within safe reach and everything is labeled. At present, Jonathon says he is the only one who knows what particular food is stored on which shelf. Under these conditions it is unsafe to have more than a few volunteers, whereas in the new facility they would be able to work in safety. Also, there is no protection from the weather for those either delivering or picking up food from the Food Bank. This problem would be solved in the new larger facility. Jonathon believes the best way that the Food Bank can supply all of its clients is for there to be only one food bank facility and even the Christ Church meals program can obtain food from the Food Bank.

Everyone was amazed at the passion that Jonathon had for the homeless and hungry and this was evident by the questions that were asked by the members present.

There seemed to be agreement amongst members during supper time that this would be an excellent project for Geelong Rotary Clubs to combine and get involved in.

(Report by PP Daryll Webb)

 
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