The appeal runs in the lead up to Christmas, inviting schools, businesses and community groups to collect food and household essentials for distribution through Wesley’s outreach centres.
Over 550 groups participated in 2015, more than double the previous year, with many individuals and families also hosting a collection box at home. Several Uniting Church congregations also participated, including Melbourne, Auburn, Glen Waverley, Bentleigh and the East Preston Ladies Guild.
Wesley’s Manager of Crisis and Homelessness Services, Janene Evans, said she is extremely grateful for the generosity of Melburnians.
“Our goal was to collect 30 tonnes and we’ve got much more than that which is fantastic. I think people really like the appeal because they can be sure that all of the donations will go to people in need,” Ms Evans said.
The main reasons people turn to services such as Wesley are financial difficulties and housing affordability. In June last year, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ rental report found the cheapest median rent was $240 per week for a two-bedroom flat in Melton. Centrelink’s Newstart Allowance for a single person with a dependent child is $566.30 per fortnight.
Food for Families received generous corporate support, including packaging company Orora who supplied all of the Food for Families boxes and 13CABS who provided vans to pick up the collection boxes across Melbourne. As the donations piled up, Fort Knox Ringwood opened its doors with free temporary storage.
If Wesley relied solely on funding to support families, the agency could give just five dollars’ worth of food to each family that asked for help at Christmas. The donations to Food for Families meant the agency could supply families with two or three bags full of food.
“The response was amazing. It’s clear that we don’t want to see others suffering and a lot of us are willing to go out of our way to help. That means a lot to people who are struggling,” Ms Evans said.
Wesley Mission Victoria will embark on the 25th annual Food for Families appeal in the lead-up to Christmas this year.