“It takes a lot for people to walk through the door and seek assistance,” says Kentish House coordinator, Cassandra Speed (pictured).
The Loaves and Fishes food partner based in Sheffield said people only sought help when they were in real need.
“Over time you get to know people’s stories,” Cassandra said.
“For some, the power bill has turned up at the same time as the car rego, or the dog has to go to the vet.
“For others, their payments have stopped or been paused because they couldn’t complete the necessary online Centrelink form, or forgot, or didn’t know they were supposed to.
“Then there are those who are in crisis and have no food in the house.”
Every week, Cassandra Speed loads up her car with food from the Loaves and Fishes warehouse in Devonport to distribute to those doing it tough in the Kentish municipality.
Cassandra takes a mix of fresh produce and frozen meals.
About a dozen families and singles drop by the community hub every Wednesday to collect food and swap stories. Food hampers are delivered to those who are unable to get to the centre because of illness or infirmity, lack of transport, or because they are in quarantine.
School breakfast packs of bread, milk, butter, muffins, fruit, Milo and pancake mix are delivered to Railton Primary School for the before-school program operating five days a week.
‘Loaves and Fishes is brilliant’
“Loaves and Fishes is brilliant. There’s nowhere else I can get free food to offer to the Kentish community.
“Other organisations charge fees which is just not viable for us.”
Adult clients to Kentish House range from older couples and singles, to single-parent families, seasonal workers, migrants, students and two-parent families.
Kentish House has worked hard to create community, and not just dole out food.
Creating community through food
The centre partners with other agencies to provide cooking programs, playgroup, budgeting and no-interest loans applications.
“The social aspects of the program are as important as the food.”
About 15 children take advantage of the daily breakfast club.
“Some kids forgot to have breakfast; some families struggle with the morning routine, while others are rising early and travelling long distances to get to school, so they are hungry when they finally arrive,” Cassandra said.
Kentish House is part of Glenhaven Family Care.
Caption: Cassandra Speed with Loaves and Fishes staff, warehouse manager Dan Kropf (left) and Ed Simpson.