Cost of living pressures sees demand surging at Sanctuary foodhub

Evidence of the rising cost of living is everywhere this month. In the June quarter, inflation increased the price of many foods including staples like fruit and vegetables by up to 7%. Surveys such as those by Choice Magazine show that nearly a quarter of respondents reported ‘struggling to get by’. In the last three months, one in five consumers have experienced their card being declined at the checkout in supermarkets and petrol stations.

Given this, it is no surprise that the Sanctuary foodhub has also experienced an increase in demand over the recent winter.

Coordinator Apryl Huglin reports that demand has continued to be high, especially from families living in community-based housing. “Because the vast majority of asylum seekers are not eligible for any Centrelink benefits, some of the families we support have no regular income at all and are living on charity. Their monthly finances amount to some supermarket vouchers from Baptcare, a few MYKI top ups and whatever they can obtain through our foodhub. They might also get support from the Salvos or Red Cross, but we are talking profound poverty here. There is no safety net available to this cohort”.

What is Sanctuary foodhub?

The Sanctuary foodhub service is only available to people seeking asylum living in Sanctuary accommodation. The service is an initiative of Baptcare and West Preston Baptist Church, where the foodhub is housed. Groceries and fresh produce are sourced each week at zero or very low cost from the Victorian Foodbank, and from food rescue organisations such as Oz Harvest. Regular donations from churches and Baptcare staff supplement supplies.

How many people depend on Sanctuary foodhub?

Every Thursday, Sanctuary volunteers pack up residents’ orders and deliver them to the Brunswick Rooming House, where they are gratefully collected by residents. On average the service supports 27 individuals per week and costs $4.71 per person per week. Families and individuals are generously provided for, and it’s not unusual for three large bags of food to be handed over to each recipient.

Resident Tibor (not his real name) is vegetarian and manages to meet nearly all his food needs through the fresh items that come each week in his foodhub delivery. He saves what tiny credit he can preserve in his monthly supermarket voucher, for phone conversations with the family he left behind when he fled his home country.

A view from one of our volunteers on the front-line …

“When we see the absolute poverty which is the condition in which so many people seeking asylum live in Australia today, we get a deeper understanding of how much privilege and fortune we actually have in Australia”, said Don, long-time volunteer with Sanctuary foodhub. “Where there is a buffer of savings or a regular salary, it makes it so much easier for people to withstand inflationary pressures.”

Sanctuary is very grateful to the donors who contribute food supplies and the volunteers who have kept the foodhub service operating over recent months.

If you would like to make a contribution to Baptcare services, such as foodhub, which provide critical support to people seeking asylum, please click here.