Drive thru generosity
The Uniting Church in Canowindra has made modifications to their Foodbasket service turning it into a “Drive through Food Service”. Community members are able to drive through and pick up a food bundle which complies with contact restrictions, but still enables them to support the vulnerable in their community
In Canowindra, the Uniting Church Congregations of Canowindra, Cranbury and Cudal , began a cooperative arrangement with the Anglican Parish in November 2003. One of the strategies to assist members of both denominations to get to know one another was the establishment of Home Groups.
Marion Wilson is the Co-Chair of the churches’ joint council. She told Insights that the Foodbasket service began ten years ago out of the churches’ “strong desire to meet the identified challenges for some people in our community to access food items at a reasonable price.”
Following the example set by a food pantry in Narromine, Canowindra began the Foodbasket operating from the Uniting Church hall in Canowindra. Over 500 people from the local community have accessed the project, with support from 45 volunteers from all walks of life.
The project is one that has fostered relationships between local groups. This has enabled partnerships with the local St Vincent de Paul with food vouchers, and clothing through the local Masonic Lodge. The Orange Salvation Army has also provided toys for families at Christmas.
The church accesses food from local sources and from Foodbank NSW. They are members of Food Waste Central West, which now owns a refrigerated van, managed by the Hope Pantry, Bathurst, and members have greater access to Sydney food outlets. The service shares produce with several other towns in the Central West.
“This enterprise has been very helpful as are the intercollegiate connections,” Ms Wilson said.
“Our prices have remained static since the project began and we still have remained financially secure.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the service, however, with the virus’ effects on seniors being a concern for the volunteers and clients.
“Many of our volunteers are over 70, as are many clients,” Ms Wilson said.
“The hall was also becoming difficult in relation to social distancing requirements.”
To combat these twin problems, one volunteer suggested a “drive thru” service.
Now in place, the drive thru offers hampers of essential groceries for $10 including bread, eggs, pasta, rice, tins of food, milk, cereal, biscuits and toilet paper.
For an extra $5, clients can buy a smaller hamper of hair shampoo, soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes, and personal hygiene items.
The Coordinator and younger members of the congregation prepare the hampers on Thursday, for Friday morning. A few younger people serve clients in their vehicles.
Ms Wilson told Insights that demand for the service is increasing in recent times.
“Our criteria for access includes those on any pension card, health card, unemployment benefits (or waiting for same), or those referred by an agency,” she said.
“This week our numbers doubled as the need has become more urgent. To provide choice for our clients, we are introducing an online list which people access through our Facebook page.”