Food Crisis

Victorians are going hungry

No one should have to skip a meal to pay their heating bill because they can't afford to make ends meet.

However, it may shock you that every weekday Victorians in need call our Assistance Welfare line asking for groceries.

This is Victoria’s food crisis.

Why is it a food ‘crisis’?

Phase 3 of the internationally recognised IPC food insecurity measure – Crisis – is defined as including households that are only “marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies”.

This measure is commonly associated with developing countries but too many vulnerable people, including families, young adults and children are in food crisis in Victoria.

Vinnies volunteers support households like these every day of the year.

What support does Vinnies offer Victorians in food crisis?

We combine a unique pairing of professional services alongside strong volunteer-led assistance across Victoria. Our food provision programs include:

  • Soup vans: Our volunteers deliver meals, friendship and support for people experiencing poverty and homelessness in from our nine hubs around  Melbourne and some regional centres in Victoria. Since the pandemic, we also now deliver hampers, containing fresh fruit, veg and rough sleeper packs.
  • Conferences: Our members deliver food and speciality hampers for people with particular dietary needs. They provide supermarket vouchers and coupons from neighbourhood butcheries, supporting local businesses. They also provide precious support and kindness, so people know they are not alone.
  • No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS): People on low incomes can access no-interest credit to pay for household goods, freeing up disposable income for groceries.
  • VincentCare: Ozanam House, run by our specialised housing provider VincentCare, provides thousands of meals for clients every year. O Café is supported by community and client volunteers to provide meals for Victorians experiencing homelessness and a barista coffee service.


What’s our approach to supporting Victorians in food crisis?

Food assistance is what nearly all the callers to our Welfare Assistance Line ask for – especially since the pandemic. Through our volunteers’ supportive approach, our ‘listening ear’, we make sure that the people we assist feel cared for and that they are not alone in their struggles. Making sure people have enough to eat is the always the first response of our dedicated members and Soup Van ‘vannies’.

Many people are coming to Vinnies for the first time because they have lost their jobs in the pandemic. We know that people are skipping meals because they cannot afford food. From January 2018 to March 2021 we saw a 145% increase in first-time callers to our call centre.  

For young people like Amy*, hunger is a personal crisis. She had been homeless but was housed in the government's hotel scheme during the pandemic. Amy was assisted into permanent housing in the western suburbs, but had no fridge or furniture. And after paying her bills, she had precious little left over. That's why she made a 15km round trip on her old bike to our Vinnies Soup Van hub in North Melbourne, where she knew the volunteers, in search of food and friendship.

Donate to Vinnies Soup Van Appeal

A lot of things were put on hold last year, but not the work of our Soup Vans. We used to say that they were out on the street every night of the year come rain, hail or shine, and now we can add pandemic to the list, because our Soup Van vannies could not let vulnerable Victorians go hungry during the crisis of a century. They carried on nearly every night throughout the pandemic to serve 550,000 meals last year. 

Your donation could provide a family with food to eat tonight. You can donate here.