Local to North East Melbourne
As well as the organisations below, see the pages about local organisations who give away free food and local organisations who provide free community meals.
BANSIC Food Hub
Midday to 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, BANSIC Food Hub provides food assistance to residents of southern Banyule who are struggling with food security. Clients are provided with a range of groceries, such as fresh produce, eggs, meat, pantry items and bread, all free of charge. The hub’s supporters include SecondBite, Foodbank, Aldi, Woolworths and Sustainable MacLeod. SecondBite, Foodbank and Aldi donate non-perishable pantry items, fresh fruit and vegetables. Woolworths in Heidelberg donate eggs. Sustainable Macleod donates locally grown vegetables.
Darebin Information Volunteer Resource Service (DIVRS)
Darebin Information Volunteer Resource Service (DIVRS) is a non-profit organisation that offers a variety of resources which aim to protect and support vulnerable members of the Darebin Community. Its Urban Food Program is the practical application of goals in home food growing, community gardening, urban food production and integrated approaches to planning urban food programs.
One DIVRS’ initative is The Darebin Fruit Squad, which is a group of trained volunteers who harvest excess fruit from households in Darebin. Once collected, these otherwise wasted resources are made available to members of the community who struggle to access fresh, nutritious food. Since their establishment in 2013, they have collected around 6 tonnes of fruit. Whilst some tree owners simply offer their surplus fruit, others are provided with maintenance services (fertilising, pruning, etc) in return for their surplus fruit.
Based on this experience, DFS and DIVRS are now encouraging others localities to develop similar initiatives. To assist with this, they have published a booklet entitled Harvesting the Urban Orchard, whose aim is “to provide practical information, tools and tips that you can use in establishing your own fruit-harvesting project.” Click here to view or download the booklet.
Diamond Valley FoodShare
Every Monday to Friday between 1pm and 3pm, the Diamond Valley FoodShare provides free food to Banyule residents in need of emergency assistance. Around 70,000 meals are given out each year, and around 400 individuals receive meals in any given month. People are referred to the FoodShare after visiting either Diamond Valley Community Information Centre in Greensborough Plaza or Banyule Support & Information Centre (BANSIC) at The Mall, Heidelberg West. Recipients receive parcels containing enough food for three to four day periods. The food parcels can be accessed twice each month.
Most of the food comes from the two major Melbourne-wide food relief organisations, namely Foodbank and SecondBite. FoodShare’s volunteers visit Foodbank every fortnight and pick up around 200Kg of fruit and veggies plus some pastries and refrigerated goods. They visit SecondBite every week and pick up around 80Kg of fruit and veggies. They also collect donations from a variety of local sources including ‘out of date’ food, excess items and purchased goods donated by individuals. Spoilable foods are collected in a refrigerated van which was purchased with the aid of a cash donation from Watsonia RSL.
The Community Grocer aims to improve access for people living on a low-income to fresh, affordable food. They do this by running weekly fruit and vegetable markets. Everyone is welcome. They only have one current local locations, namely Fitzroy: every Tuesday, 9am-1pm at 90 Brunswick Street.
Thornbury Church of Christ
Thornbury Church of Christ operate a food relief program, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 2.30-5pm. There is a free community meal on the 4th Sunday of every month, midday-1pm. There is also a pantry (Smith St Community Pantry) which is open 24/7 and typically contains unopened non-perishable food, bread and garden produce. The idea is that everyone gives what they can and takes only what they need.
Whittlesea Food Collective
Whittlesea Food Collective, which is a partnership between Whittlesea Community Connections and the Whittlesea Emergency Relief Network, aims to develop an integrated response to people experiencing hardship, where the response includes food production and distribution, plant and food-based enterprises, recycling and waste reduction and learning and employment pathways. It delivers individuals with fresh, nourishing food, free of cost, to eligible residents in the City of Whittlesea.
FareShare rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and cooks it into free nutritious meals for people in need. In Melbourne, with the help of 900 regular volunteers, it cooks around 5,500 free meals a day (i.e. around 1.3 million meals a year) for charities such as soup vans, homeless shelters, women’s refuges and community food banks. Its rescued food comes from supermarkets, wholesalers, farmers and other businesses. By avoiding food waste, and diverting surplus, edible food from landfill, it also reduces greenhouse gases. Its Melbourne headquarters is in Abbotsford.
Fareshare is a charity which relies on donations. Donate now.
Sourcing enough fresh vegetables to add nutrition to meals is one of FareShare’s biggest challenges. It has three sites in and around Melbourne where it grows its own vegetables, harvesting around 40 tonnes per year. One of those sites is in Abbotsford, which was previously disused VicTrack land but now grows a range of vegetables on 70 beds tended by volunteers, who are overseen by a Garden Manager. The choice of vegetables grown is dictated by the needs of the kitchen, which means that there is a focus on capsicums, carrots, celery, eggplants, leeks, parsnips, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, turnip and zucchini.
Foodbank Victoria is a major organisation whose purpose is “to source and distribute healthy food to assist Victorians experiencing hardship“. Each year, around 500,000(!) Victorians receive food that came from the Foodbank – a total of 6 million kilograms or 12 million meals each year. This food is supplied to around 500 registered charity food relief agencies around Victoria who, in turn, distribute it to members of the community. Foodbank is also funded by the Victorian Education Department to support breakfast clubs in 500 disadvantaged primary schools. And it runs the ‘Farms to Families’ program, which supports the provision of fresh fruit and vegetables direct from farmers to local families via pop-up markets.
SecondBite is a major Australia-wide organisation, headquartered in Heidelberg West, which “exists to provide access to fresh, nutritious food for people in need across Australia. We do this by stopping good food from going to waste. We rescue edible, nutritious food that was heading for landfill and give it to people in need, free of charge.” What they actually do is to make the food available to local agencies, such as Diamond Valley FoodShare, who then distribute it to individuals. Much of their food comes from Coles, and the majority of it is fresh fruit and vegetables.