Relief in sight as Canberra’s food network continues to grow

Michael Weaver 3 April 2020 2
Heat and eat meals from the No Biggie Meals team

Heat and eat meals from the No Biggie Meals team and the Canberra Relief Network. Photo: Supplied.

The Canberra Relief Network, a collaborative network of established social service and emergency relief providers led by UnitingCare at Kippax, is joining with No Biggie Meals to provide weekly meals to the Territory’s most vulnerable members.

No Biggie Meals began providing healthy, nutritious meals from a number of Canberra’s most popular venues in response to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry.

Now the meals will go even further thanks to the collaboration with the Canberra Relief Network, which has been sending out basics like pasta, peanut butter and toilet rolls to disadvantaged or vulnerable people so they’re not worried about having food or essentials.

Weekly News Wrap with Genevieve Jacobs

This week's news update comes to you from the Canberra Relief Network's hub where food hampers and basic groceries are being pulled together for vulnerable people all over Canberra. The unique collaboration brings together Canberra charities and the ACT Government. We're also talking every aspect of COVID-19 including childcare, and encouraging you to adopt a furry friend in these trying times.

Posted by The RiotACT on Thursday, 2 April 2020

The CEO of the Canberra Relief Network, Steve Coster, told Region Media the network has been supporting vulnerable people for more than 15 years and is well placed to ensure anyone who can’t get food or supplies has somewhere to go.

Mr Coster said they are not taking items from the shelves of supermarkets, but have been working with local providers such as Clubs ACT, as well as the Food Bank organisation.

“We’re using bulk providers in Sydney and from around Australia to get the food and supplies here and they’ve been responding really well,” he said.

“Together, we secure all the bulk orders of food coming into Canberra and bring them to the one place and distribute to those agencies who are then passing them on to individuals.”

Mr Coster said the network is also working with the ACT Government to ensure the best approach continues to evolve.

Part of the evolution is the organiser of No Biggie Meals, Tristan Maddigan, who said they are thrilled to be supporting the Canberra Relief Network.

“This is a great story of the hospitality industry that has been heavily affected, now being able to mobilise to support those in need, whilst securing jobs,” Mr Maddigan said.

“We know the hospitality industry has been dramatically affected by the downturn of the economy, but they still have the resources and the capability to support those who need it most at the moment.

“We know that the Canberra Relief Network has been trying to get meals and other supplies to the most vulnerable people at the moment, and being able to supply those into kitchens of the No Biggie venues across Canberra is another step forward in this current emergency.”

Mr Maddigan said 10 venues have already joined the No Biggie Meals network and he is talking to another 10 venues who will hopefully lend their kitchens to the cause next week.

“People purchasing the meals through us keeps hospitality venues and the supply chain ticking, but for those more vulnerable, that’s where great initiatives by the ACT Government with the Canberra Relief Network can step in and give their support.

“As long as they need us to provide the support, we’ll continue to do so,” he said.

The Canberra Relief Network's Steve Coster

The Canberra Relief Network’s Steve Coster in the warehouse where food and supplies are getting to those most in need. Photo: Thomas Lucraft, Region Media

Mr Coster said they are there to support anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, even those who have never previously needed help.

“These include casual workers who have been stood down, international students and those isolated due to COVID-19 infection, carers of individuals with COVID-19, disability, health challenges or chronic illnesses,” he said.

Also getting into the spirit is the very spirited owner of Unicorn Spirits, Ben Osborne, who, along with a number of Canberra distilleries, has converted his local distillery to supply Canberra Hospital with WHO-recipe hand sanitiser.

“With over 10,000 enquires for sanitiser, I have had an incredibly hard time allocating the extremely limited stock and making sure that it gets to those who need it most. The Canberra Relief Network has been such an incredible way to assure that is happening,” Mr Osborne said.

If you need help with food or supplies during the COVID-19 crisis, you can contact the Canberra Relief Network’s hotline on 1800 431133, where people experienced with helping vulnerable people can discuss your situation. Or find them online at Canberra Relief Network.


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2 Responses to Relief in sight as Canberra’s food network continues to grow
Shirley Troy Shirley Troy 2:10 am 05 Apr 20

Hope the strengths of community spirit ,awareness and support continue when this Crisis is over.

Anne Atherton Anne Atherton 8:16 am 04 Apr 20

Love our community spirit

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