Boxes of thoughtfully chosen food items are being distributed to 50 households around Shepparton this week, as COVID-affected communities struggle to stock pantries with the essentials. The donation was supplied by Future Foundation for Kids, a Melbourne-based not-for-profit run by volunteers with Sri Lankan backgrounds.
Future Foundation for Kids president Damitha de Mel and his team collaborated with experts in Shepparton to ensure the donation of culturally appropriate food relief reached those who needed it most urgently.
“Families who come to Australia seeking a better life … sometimes don’t have family and other support networks around them, so those are the people we are targeting mainly, to help them,” Mr de Mel said.
Staff from the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District, Uniting Shepparton and Greater Shepparton City Council worked together to plan, acquire and distribute food boxes.
Groceries were purchased from small businesses in Shepparton, to ensure the Future Foundation for Kids donation benefited the local economy as well as the community.
For people from African backgrounds, Ethnic Council community employment connector Deng Mading chose staples such as maize and cassava flours, frozen cassava, okra, omena (anchovies), sardines and beans.
Abdullah Naveed, an Afghan community development officer at the Ethnic Council, chose eggs, 10kg bags of rice, oil, beans, tomato paste, various legumes and more essentials for the households he supports.
Mr Naveed said there was high demand for support of this kind among the community.
Case manager Fatima Al-Qarakchy of Uniting Shepparton’s Humanitarian Settlement Program organised food packs for people from Arabic and Indonesian communities.
She said the donation would make a huge difference.
“The feedback I get from clients is amazing, it’s like I give them one million dollars … it’s able to support them in changing their life,“ Mrs Al-Qarakchy said.
Ethnic Council strategic engagement officer Sam Atukorala said allocating the donated food items was a carefully considered process.
“We had to talk to the experts who deal with cases day-in day-out, to pick those families and individuals and groups from new and emerging communities who need it most,“ he said.
City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the Future Foundation for Kids donation was gratefully received, and an example of Shepparton building a strong network of relationships with organisations.
“It’s really important that we continue, in good times and bad times, to make sure Greater Shepparton is in the conversation,” Cr O’Keeffe said.