Sydney councilors have asked for food aid to be paid for as demand rises

As soaring living costs hit those in need and exceed the capacity of charities, local councils are being asked to get involved and fund food relief programs directly.

The City of Sydney will explore options for direct financial support to local food banks, following urgent minutes from the Lord Mayor of Clover Moore at Monday night’s meeting.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“Frighteningly, food charities are telling me that the demand for free food is far greater now than it was during the coronavirus crisis, and that low-income workers are joining the line of people who can’t afford food,” Moore said in her filing .

She said OzHarvest is now serving 2,000 people a week at Waterloo Market, up from 1,500 during the pandemic, while demand for the Girls and Boys Brigade’s grocery services in Surry Hills has increased by almost 150 per cent.

First Nations Response requests for help have doubled since late last year, Moore said, and demand at the Camperdown Food Pantry on Addison’s Road has increased 32 percent. At King Cross, St Canice’s Kitchen served 160 to 220 people a day (previously 130) and the number was expected to grow.

As the council developed a sustainable food systems policy, “our neighbors who are currently starving cannot wait,” Moore said. “You need help now.”

Free for All: OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn, whose company provides free groceries for all.

Free for All: OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn, whose company provides free groceries for all.Credit: Jessica Hromas

The Inner West Council also noted last week a massive surge in demand for local food aid programs including Addi Road and Bill Crews Foundation services. However, the council narrowly voted against a proposal to allocate $50,000 to poverty alleviation programs in the 2023-24 budget, instead agreeing to hold a fundraiser to that end.

Robyn White, a volunteer at Addi Road Food Pantry, said demand for meetings had increased dramatically over the past 12 months, with 20 or 30 people waiting outside an hour before the facility opened.

Justin Scaccy

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