Victorians are going hungry
No one should have to skip a meal to pay their heating bill or because they can't afford to buy food, but we know that is happening in Victoria today. People in our community call our Assistance Welfare line every day of the week asking for groceries. We believe that shouldn't be happening, and this is what we do about it.
Vinnies' programs include food aid through our statewide network of ‘conference’ volunteers who deliver hampers packed full of fresh fruit and veg, and store cupboard essentials – as well as those items that bring a feeling of comfort and normality, like coffee and tea. They also provide precious support and kindness, so people know they are not alone.
And our nine Soup Van hubs provide meals and friendship to people who are sleeping rough or living in low-cost accommodation every night of the year.
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”.
Vinnies Victoria visits households like these every day of the year to provide food and friendship to families and individuals who are struggling.
The IPC measure is commonly associated with developing countries but too many vulnerable people, including young adults, children and groups who may surprise you, are in food crisis in Victoria.
What services and assistance does Vinnies offer to support 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 Vinnies Soup Van volunteers deliver meals, friendship and support for people experiencing poverty and homelessness in metro and regional Victoria. Since the pandemic, we also now deliver hampers, containing fresh fruit, veg and recipe cards, and rough sleeper packs.
- Conferences: Our members provide deliver hampers and bread runs, and create speciality hampers for people with particular dietary needs. They also provide supermarket vouchers and coupons from neighbourhood butcheries, supporting local businesses too.
- Vinnies Shops: During the pandemic, food hampers have been also been distributed via Vinnies Victoria’s 110+ shops.
- 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 to drop-in clients 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 and is the type of support that Vinnies offers most. Through our volunteers’ caring and 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 and are unable to afford food. 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. Read her story here.
Your donation could provide a family with food to eat tonight
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.
Make a donation to Vinnies today, because Good Works.