Farmers in north-east Victoria are donating tonnes of fruit and vegetables to help an emergency food provider meet the 'huge' demand in communities hit hard by drought, bushfires and the Corona-virus pandemic.
Manager of Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare Peter Matthews said it had been a difficult year. "Everything that could have possibly happened in the past four months in terms of emergency food relief has happened," he said. "We had the bushfires, before the bushfires we had the drought … and now Corona-virus."
His organisation feeds up to 3,000 people a week in southern New South Wales and north-east Victoria, including towns devastated by the summer's bushfires such as Corryong. "We basically can't meet the demand. We still run out of fresh fruit and veg sometimes," Mr Matthews said. "We substitute. We never say no. We'll explain to them that this is all we've got at the moment … during the bushfires in particular we purchased fresh fruit and vegetables because they were really scarce."
Growers step up
But a project started 18 months ago is beginning to bear fruit after FoodShare worked with local primary producers for a school education program.
"We got to know some farmers and some of them said, 'Well, you know, we might have a bit of spare produce every now and again, would you like some?' … that sparked the idea of going and approaching them," Mr Matthews said.