An emergency food hub has opened at the Geelong Food Relief Centre, backed by $1m capital funding from the Greater Geelong Council.
Council says the new not-for-profit hub in North Geelong is significantly larger than the organisation’s previous facility, enabling it to broaden its distribution area and tackle rising demand.
Mayor Stephanie Asher said it was wonderful to see the centre operating after three years of planning and works.
“Council is proud to have worked closely with the community to create a sustainable model that will co-ordinate food relief resources across the region,” Mayor Asher said.
“This model is not only a first for Geelong, but it provides a blueprint for other cities who are keen to assist grassroots groups to help their own residents struggling with food insecurity.”
Council has also allocated $700,000 over five years to help with the centre’s operating costs and to strengthen its ability to attract volunteers and other philanthropic assistance.
Councillor Sarah Mansfield, Chair of the Community Health and Aged Care portfolio said there are too many community members struggling to put food on the table.
“Food insecurity is a significant problem in Greater Geelong, so this industry-first regional food hub is a massive achievement in tackling this issue head-on,” Cr Mansfield said.
“The hub brings together so many organisations and allows them to best cater to the growing demand for food relief in our community.”
It is estimated that around 53,000 Geelong residents need food assistance in a 12-month period, equivalent to approximately 2.48 million meals per year.
With expected population growth and the impacts of COVID-19, it is anticipated that the system will need to provide more than 3.25 million meals by 2031.
The new development includes commercial kitchen facilities, cool store and freezer facilities, office and meeting rooms, and a dry store ‘mini mart’ area.
The Victorian Government has provided $368,750 for the centre to expand its services and a further $300,000 to help fit out the food distribution hub.
Geelong is one of five centres across the state that the Government has supported to run a regional food hub.