SUPERMARKET stock shortages are hurting the most vulnerable members of the Wonthaggi community, with the Salvation Army struggling to keep up with demand at its emergency relief food bank.
The Salvos are the main providers of emergency welfare in Wonthaggi, and in the last couple of weeks, they’ve had to limit what they’re able to offer those in need, as supplies dwindle.
A number of factors are contributing to the supply shortage, says Wonthaggi Corps Captain Amy Jones.
Not only are the Salvos volunteers unable to stock up on what they need for the food bank as they normally would at the supermarket – bread, canned goods and pasta are particularly hard to come by – they’re also receiving an increasing number of welfare requests, as people struggle to get by on the slim pickings left on the supermarket shelves.
Where they were seeing 30 to 40 people at the food bank, at its twice weekly distributions, the number’s now averaging around 50 and is expected to climb as the health crisis escalates.
As the hoarding phenomenon spreads far and wide, the Salvos are also receiving less in their orders from SecondBite, a national not-for-profit that ‘rescues’ surplus fresh food from retailers including supermarkets, and redistributes it to charities.
Amy’s now been forced to consider other options, including asking the community for donations of food items.
She’s also asking the community to be mindful of the impact of hoarding on people already facing food insecurity.
“This community is already doing it tough and this happening hasn’t helped that,” Amy said.
“We are still seeing people being very generous and caring for each other, and I think if we can maintain that community spirit through this, we’ll get through together.
“That’s about not hoarding, not panicking, checking on our neighbours, especially those we know are vulnerable, being nice to those serving us, and just looking out for each other – anything we can do to help each other out.”
The Salvos are committed to ensuring continuity of service delivery and never turning away someone in need.
But welfare provision is a tricky space at the moment, Amy says, and is expected to get even trickier.
“We’re doing what we can to and support as many people in need in the community as we can but we’re limited in what we can get.
“We’re going to keep serving as much as we can, but we’re getting ready for a bigger rush where we may be further limited and our supplies may be significantly decreased.”
If you’ve got some extra groceries you’d like to donate, get in touch with Amy via ‘The Salvation Army Wonthaggi’ Facebook page or call 5672 1228.