OUR SAY: Charity provides plenty of food for thought in welfare challenge

HELPING OUT: FoodCare Orange team leader Kerrie Nicholls. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1114jkfoodcare2
HELPING OUT: FoodCare Orange team leader Kerrie Nicholls. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1114jkfoodcare2

Orange has become a place for queues.

And whether it be the waiting room at St Vincent de Paul’s welfare office in McLachlan Street, the waiting list for low-cost housing or the entrance to FoodCare Orange’s supermarket there is a growing concern among providers.

More people are needing help to pay increasingly larger energy bills.

More people are finding traditional housing methods, of owning or renting, are simply falling well out of their grasp.

And more people are seeking basic necessities, like food, just to survive each week.

Allied to these financial problems are the associated health problems, psychological and physical, that people endure, as either a cause or effect of their situation.

A visit to the FoodCare Orange supermarket in Glenroi this week revealed a lot of people in desperate circumstances.

Few were willing to talk publicly about their situation but without seeing their plight first hand it is hard to fully understand what they are going through.

Customer Peter Balsom did explain his circumstances; of what it meant to lose your job in Orange and the financial consequences of battling to pay a mortgage while living on a disability pension.

The working poor are becoming a growing recipient of welfare in Orange.

FoodCare provides low-cost and free food for about 100 people twice a week.

The generosity of local producers who provide excess, close to best-before-dated fresh and frozen food plus discontinued grocery items helps FoodCare operate.

FoodCare also buys food through the Foodbank relief organisation each week and receives donations from community home gardeners.

It describes itself as a “true food rescue service”.

Its latest scheme, to try to assist in rescuing the environment from growing mountains of landfill through plastic bags, is another step in the right direction.

Spokeswoman Emma Dresser said handing out reusable bags to customers they could bring to the supermarket on future visits played a valuable role in helping reduce the need for disposable plastic bags to carry their food home.

But maybe the greater advantage is the ability to educate people about cutting waste and landfill.

It is, as she says, “a small change to make a big difference”.