Baptcare Sanctuary tackling food insecurity in difficult times

Everybody Needs a Homeis the theme for Homelessness Week this year. The week is an annual campaign to highlight the urgent need for more social housing in our community.

Baptcare Sanctuary is a vital part of Baptcare’s work to address homelessness in our community. During this difficult period it is finding innovative ways to continue to provide housing and support that includes its foodbank for people seeking asylum.

Current restrictions have presented significant challenges to the operation of Baptcare’s Sanctuary foodbank. The old model of a common pantry and fridge inevitably involved lots of jostling and close contact as residents sought their own personal supplies. In a time of heightened food insecurity, the Sanctuary team needed to come up with an alternative way of safely managing and distributing rescued food - one that provided 'individualised' food packs to residents.

Seeing this difficulty, the West Preston Baptist Church generously offered the use of a large part of its premises, while it was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. This space provided an opportunity to relocate food stocks to the church, turning it into a “hub” for safe collection and distribution of food.

Every week a team of volunteers and staff - all carefully socially distanced - collect food, bring it to the church, and repack it into individual bags for distribution to residents. The existing sources of fresh supplies - SecondBite, OzHarvest and the Yarraville Foodbank - have been supplemented with purchased food and lots of generous donations from the community. Residents in need of food support are provided with an individual weekly grocery order, which is delivered to them by appointment and under conditions of safety and hygiene.

The Sanctuary team is grateful to Pastor Paul and the West Preston Baptist Church community, as well as to all the generous Sanctuary volunteers who have changed their practice to meet this need. Sixty-five food-insecure and vulnerable residents, who might otherwise have been at heightened risk, are now receiving regular nourishment. What great evidence of kindness and collaboration in these times of hardship!

If you would like to support Sanctuary and the foodbank, please click here