Good food for hungry tummies!

MDAS and SecondBite partnership

Mallee District Aboriginal Services and the food charity SecondBite are stepping up to the plate to provide practical help for people who sometimes struggle to put food on the table.
Already, the partnership has delivered more than 70 boxes of fruit, vegetables, bread and non-perishable items to community members and MDAS Nutrition and Public Health Advisor Monica Doherty says it’s filling an important gap.
“Food insecurity is a lot bigger issue than many of us realise,” Ms Doherty said.
“People might be really struggling, but they often find it hard to put their hand up and ask for help because they mightn’t want workmates, friends or even family to know that they are having a hard time,” she said.
“We’re out and about in the community and we sometimes become aware of a person or family who might be struggling – and this is where our partnership with SecondBite comes in.  They don’t necessarily have to ask – we can just add their name to our list for a drop-off.”
SecondBite was established in 2005 and redistributes perishables that would otherwise go to landfill to provide nutritious and healthy food to people facing food insecurity. The program sources useable fresh food donated by supermarkets, farmers and markets and distributes it by forming partnerships with community organisations.
MDAS Aboriginal Health Promotion and Chronic Care Worker Jock Peterson and outreach worker Kane Smith collect excess and leftover perishables from the supermarket three times a week and colleagues and volunteers then put together the boxes for distribution.
Mr Peterson said the packages we always warmly welcomed by community members who receive them.
“It’s a win-win because it’s fresh fruit and produce that would otherwise be thrown out by the supermarkets – and we’re handing it to someone who’s going through a rough patch and needs a bit of a hand that week,” Mr Peterson said.e also have an existing partnership with Food Bank, so that also means we can beef up the boxes with some non-perishables that make a couple of meals or will keep in the cupboard.”
Ms Doherty said people could struggle to access healthy food choices for financial, health or transport reasons.
“But obviously when you’re juggling financially, healthy foods like fruit and vegetables are often the first to go, because they can be quite expensive,” she said.
“That means the choice is to buy cheaper processed foods because the priority is to fill the family’s tummy – things like two-minute noodles are often the most affordable things – but they’re not so good nutritionally.”
Ms Doherty said availability of food under the program varied, depending on the availability of excess from the supermarkets.
“But we strive to make the boxes available to anyone in genuine need, with a priority for Elders, people who are unwell, and families with young children,” she said.

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: "Self-determined, healthy, robust and culturally strong Aboriginal communities across the Mallee region."

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