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  • Writer's pictureJack Ward

Unlikely partnership helps most vulnerable

Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.

ARARAT Neighbourhood House and Corrections Victoria have formed a partnership to provide frozen meals for Ararat’s most vulnerable.

Staff from a local corrections facility have been collecting the organisation’s surplus produce from the Second Bite program since earlier this year. It is then taken back to their facility so the residents can produce frozen meals.

PHOTO: (L-R) Ararat Neighbourhood House staff, Lou Makin and Natasha Hughes, have been distributing meals to the community (Jack Ward/Ararat Advocate)

Neighbourhood House manager, Lou Makin, said the meals are returned to them for distribution across the community.

“I really like to acknowledge the partnership with Corrections. I think, without their support, there are so many people that we would not have been able to reach for various reasons,” she said.

“There's a lot of people who, for one reason or another, struggle to put healthy meals on the table, or it could be just a lack of cooking skills, it could be that they have no home.

“And by us having the pre-prepared meals, we’re able to give them something substantial that they can eat.”

Community members receiving the meals have been “ecstatic” and overwhelmed by the quality of meals they are receiving.

“The food's prepared in a commercial kitchen and everybody has their safe food handling certificates,” Ms Makin said

“They’re supervised and it's all stored correctly and brought to us frozen. It's prepped to the highest standard as well.”

Neighbourhood House are now looking at ways to expand the offering to residents across the wider Ararat region.

“With the recent Community Food Relief grants that were just recently announced, I've submitted an application to hopefully buy a refrigerated vehicle that we can then use for collection and distribution of food further afield,” she said.

“For some of the other smaller outlying towns like Elmhurst, Lake Bolac and Maroona - we'd be able to reach further afield than what we are now because some people can't get here.”

And Ms Makin said the need is well and truly there, “I would guesstimate that we've probably had an increase of around 30% of requests for support and people that haven't contacted us before, during the pandemic.”

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