Heathcote Foodshare closes its doors

By Vanessa Wiltshire

BENDIGO Foodshare may be the lifeline hundreds of people need after Heathcote’s service closed its doors on Friday.

An emergency meeting with local not-for-profits will be held here on Tuesday.

Heathcote’s Foodshare has been supporting about 250 local families – around 450 people – on a weekly basis.

Its closure has been disastrous news for those people as food security becomes a significant issue in Heathcote and surrounding communities.

Heathcote Foodshare president Rob Peachey said the decision to close was incredibly tough but “boiled down to us not being able to get enough food”.

The group’s problems were compounded recently when its truck was written off in an accident at Quarry Hill, leaving volunteers to rely on one smaller vehicle as they called for donations to upgrade a new truck.

“We have had a lot of donations, some of which were quite large, from our community,” Rob told local media.

With the service closed Rob said the money would now be donated to another charity.

“We received $400 through public donations and I have spoken to nearly all of the people involved and they are happy for us to do that,” he said.

Rob said the Foodshare op shop would remain open.

“We will relocate this to the Foodshare site,” he said.

“With the new bakery opening, it’s in a prime position. Money raised from the op shop will distributed to local charities”.

When the McIvor Times spoke with him on Friday, he emphasised the need for Foodshare to continue.

“The need is dire,” he said. “But the current model is not viable. It needs a committee and to work in partnership with a larger organisation”.

Volunteer Peter Van Stee has also been one of its users since the service was founded.

“I had a bad motorcycle accident 20 years ago and broke my back and am on a disability pension.

“Having Foodshare in Heathcote means I can turn the heater on in winter and the air-conditioning in summer. I don’t know what I’m going to do”.

Bendigo Foodshare marketing and communications co-ordinator Stephanie Flynn said they learned about the closure of Heathcote Foodshare on Wednesday.

“We are not the same organisation; however we are working quickly to determine how we can help continue services in Heathcote,” Stephanie said.

“Our operating model is different, in that we provide food to charities, not direct to the public.

“But we recognise many people rely on the Foodshare service. We are committed to helping deliver a solution".

Image: Peter Van Stee, Rob Peachey and Mariela Laratro.