Demand for food at Dorset Community House has increased 50 percent in the past 12 months as cost of living pressures force more people into hunger and despair, many for the first time.
“We’re seeing families who have full time jobs seeking our help,” said program worker Zoe Bennett.
“We help everyone who comes for help, but prioritise those in crisis such as families with young children, those escaping domestic violence and the elderly.”
The community house distributes a mix of fresh produce, cooked meals and packaged grocery lines supplied by Loaves and Fishes to about 270 people each month from centres in Scottsdale and Gladstone.
“We’re incredibly thankful for the support of Loaves and Fishes,” Zoe said.
“People get really excited on Wednesdays when the Loaves and Fishes truck arrives.
“Partly because you never know what we’re going to get. We’ve had everything from baby rusks and braised squid casserole, to kilos and kilos of cheese cubes, chocolate-covered caramel popcorn and cake, to the staple favourites of roast meals, stews and nachos.
“One week we received polenta (cornmeal) slice, and had to Google what it was.
“One of our elderly clients got very excited, saying the slice took her back to her childhood.”
Loaves and Fishes has been working with the community house for three years, together serving a diverse local government area of 3200 sq.km, housing around 6000 people, including Scottsdale, Bridport, Derby, Gladstone, Ringarooma, Musselroe Bay, and Lebrina.
The community centre feeds a diverse group of locals, from those experiencing homelessness, the elderly, working families, extended families and adults escaping domestic violence.
Many are seeking food support for the first time.
“They say things like, ‘normally I’m a give, not a taker, but this week I’m struggling’,’’ Zoe said.
Dorset Community House receives 300 kg of food each week and is one of hundreds of local food partners who work with Loaves and Fishes.
Loaves and Fishes uses a mix of bought and donated surplus food to supply ready-to-eat meals, fresh fruit and vegetables and a small quantity of ambient product to partners statewide.
Loaves and Fishes is feeding around 16,000 Tasmanians each week.