Food Relief

Heidelberg West
Notes (in their own words):

The 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 is open from midday to 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Members of the Banyule community who are in a financial crisis can access their service by ringing them on 9459 5959 to request a food parcel. The food parcels can be accessed generally every 2 weeks for eligible clients.

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.

Notes (in their own words):

Carenet is a food relief organisation that provides both pre-packed hampers and client-selected items for people who need them. The hampers can contain a selection of fresh, frozen and non-perishable products including fresh fruit & vegetables, cleaning & hygiene products, frozen meals, and cat & dog food. They are available on referral, including self-referral, using a simple referral form. The hampers can be picked up from Manningham Christian Centre every Tuesday between 10am and 2pm.

Carenet also has a mobile pantry which gives out free food plus cleaning and hygiene products. As at late 2021, the pantry’s schedule is:

  • Doncaster City Church: every Thursday, 3-5pm; 8 Montgomery Street, Doncaster East.
  • Warrandyte Neighbourhood House: every Wednesday, 10am-midday; in the car park, Level 1/168 Yarra Street, Warrandyte.
  • Wonga Park Community Cottage: every other Wednesday, 12.30-2.30pm; Unit 1/9-13 Old Yarra Road, Wonga Park.

Finally, Carenet is part of The Food Collective, where they assist with food distribution, packing food hampers and pantry re-stocking.

CareNet is part of the Manningham Christian Centre.

Darebin Information, Volunteer & Resource Service
Fruit trees and veggie seedlings
Local outlets:
Notes (in their own words):

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 of DIVRS’ initiatives is the growing and selling of trees and seedlings by volunteers. By purchasing and planting these products, you are supporting DIVRS’ activities to protect and preserve the urban orchard for your community and for future generations and increasing your own food security and those who you share with.

Another 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
Notes (in their own words):

Every Monday to Friday between 1pm and 3pm, Diamond Valley FoodShare provides free food to Banyule residents in need of emergency assistance. Around 50,000 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 with the collection points including five local Woolworths supermarkets, Foodworks Ivanhoe and Diamond Village and Diamond Creek IGA supermarkets. Spoilable foods are collected in a refrigerated van which was purchased with the aid of a cash donation from Watsonia RSL.

Read an interview from April 2018.

Notes (in their own words):

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 (they have eight vans that collect produce from Woolworths stores and others). 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 now 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.

FareShare has written a manual to share their experiences of urban food production. Subjects covered include: crops grown and yield; soil; composting; integrated pest management; crop rotation; and companion planting. Click here to download.

Greenhills Neighbourhood House
Notes (in their own words):

Greenhills Neighbourhood House has a food relief centre that offers fresh food, pantry items and toiletries on Thursdays and Fridays each week (except between Christmas and New Year). They also serve low-cost barista coffee. More generally, they offer support to everyone and can also give referrals to other connected programs.

In line with their model of ‘donate what you can and take what you need’, they accept donations from the local community.

They often organise swaps (of books, puzzles, plants and clothes) to reduce waste in the community.

They have community composting and recycling programs plus a number of veggies beds.

Reservoir Neighbourhood House
Notes (in their own words):

Reservoir Neighbourhood House has a ‘community pantry’, which is simply an open cupboard fixed to the outside wall to which people can either donate, or freely take out, any non-perishable food. In practice, most of the food is bought from a local supermarket using a local, grant.

It appears that most of the food is taken within a few hours of being placed there. In response, although the Neighbourhood House staff buy most of the produce on a Monday morning, they spread out the timing of its placement in the pantry. Anyone can take anything that they want whenever they want and they don’t need to interact with the Neighbourhood House staff to do so.

Monday to Thursday, the Neighbourhood House is open for emergency food relief. On Monday nights and Thursday mornings, they give away free bread. Every other Tuesday, they have a delivery of fresh produce. On the 2nd Tuesday of every month, they have a free lunch.

Notes (in their own words):

The Food Collective is an initiative of Diamond Valley Community Support which brings together a number of local delivery and donation partners, community organisations and individuals to address food security challenges for vulnerable and disadvantaged community members in the Diamond Valley Region. They do this by sourcing and supplying basic non-perishable food parcels of everyday necessities to those who are experiencing financial crisis and needing emergency relief assistance.

One of its main initiatives to date has been the establishment of community pantries around Banyule and Nillumbik. These pantries contain non-perishable food which is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, require no appointments and are open to whoever needs food.

Their philosophy is give what you can, take what you need, with people able to donate to the pantry as well.

Their pantries are in:

  • Diamond Creek (St Johns Diamond Creek). Open 24/7.
  • Eltham (Eltham Lions Club). Open 24/7.
  • Greensborough (Greenhills Neighbourhood House). Open 24/7 (with a larger pantry open Monday to Friday, 9am-3pm) and managed by the neighbourhood house.
  • Hurstbridge (Hurstbridge Community Hub). Open 24/7 and managed by the Vines Baptist Church.
  • Panton Hill (Panton Hill Living & Learning Centre). Open 24/7 and managed by the living & learning centre.
  • Rosanna (Rosanna Fire Station Community House). Open 24/7 and managed by the community house.
  • Strathewen (Strathewen Primary School). Open 24/7 and managed by the school.
  • Warrandyte (Warrandyte Neighbourhood House). Open Wednesdays, 10am-midday and managed by Carenet.
  • Watsonia (Watsonia Neighbourhood House). Open 24/7 and managed by the neighbourhood house.
Thornbury Church of Christ
Notes (in their own words):

They operate a food relief program, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 2.30-5pm. The produce available includes sourdough bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen pre-cooked meals and various pantry items. Anyone can come.

They are thankful to their regular suppliers, including Northcote Bakeshop, Bridge Darebin, Brumby’s Bakery Strathmore, SecondBite, Foodbank Victoria, The Billy Cart Bread Co., Kneadful Things – Artisan Bakery, and Kinfolk & Northcote Lions Club.

There is a free community meal on the 4th Sunday of every month, midday-1pm (takeaway only during the pandemic). There are both roast meat and vegetarian options. They ask people to pre-order as it helps with numbers.

There is a pantry (Smith St Community Pantry), which is open 24/7 and is accessible from the footpath on the Smith Street side of the church property. Give what you can and take only what you need. As well as unopened non-perishable food, it often contains bread and garden produce plus toiletries and cleaning products. It is open for donations. Although it is located on the church premises, it is managed by local neighbours and friends who keep it clean and check it from day to day.

The pantry has its own Facebook page.

Most recently, they opened Think Local Community Cafe, which is a social enterprise business in the form of a mobile coffee cart that is open Monday to Friday, 6.30am-2pm. It will hopefully generate more funds to begin a weekly evening meal in the future.

Whittlesea Food Collective
Notes (in their own words):

Whittlesea Food Collective 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.

It also provides opportunities for people to volunteer and participate in community activities (see application form). And it accepts donations (see donations form).

Its resources include a demonstration veggie garden and a commercial kitchen.

Whittlesea Food Collective is a partnership between Whittlesea Community Connections and the Whittlesea Emergency Relief Network. It is part of a broader project, the Whittlesea Community Farm and Food Collective, which is a partnership between Whittlesea Community Connections, Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne Polytechnic and City of Whittlesea.