The Community Grocer, a non-profit social enterprise which runs five fruit and vegetable markets in public housing estates and community centres across Melbourne, tackles the major barriers stopping people from accessing fresh food, such as cost and location, and sells produce that’s around 60 per cent cheaper than supermarkets.
Now that organisation will receive a $150,000 VicHealth Partnership Grant to address increased demand and ensure more locals can benefit from the initiative.
VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said access to low-cost fruit and vegetables is more important than ever right now. “This is all about getting more fresh, Victorian produce into the hands of more Victorians. We’re excited to be supporting The Community Grocer to expand its fantastic work in providing local communities, in particular people on low-incomes, with convenient access to fresh, affordable produce,” Dr Demaio said.
“Eating a healthy diet can help us avoid long-term health problems, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, but it can also support our immune system. We know the cost of food is rising and the coronavirus pandemic has affected people in various ways, putting fresh fruit and vegetables out of reach for many Victorian households.”
“This partnership will ensure more communities, particularly those experiencing disadvantage, can put fresh, local fruit and veggies on the table now, and for months and years to come. The markets also give people connection and purpose while following physical distancing measures, which is so important while many in our community are feeling isolated, anxious and lonely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a spike in the cost of food in the first three months of 2020. Fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood, and cereal products, like rice and pasta, all increased in price due to bushfires, drought and the coronavirus pandemic.
Miragenews.com reported that over the next 14 months, The Community Grocer will use the $150,000 VicHealth grant to reach new communities, including through new markets and innovative delivery schemes, and increase capacity at its existing markets.