A food relief program operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been expanded in response to increasing demand for support in the wider Ballarat community in Victoria.
Run by volunteers, Soul+Food aims to be a centre of influence by taking care of the physical, social and spiritual needs of members of the community while also creating new opportunities for local and regional suppliers to contribute to the program. With the help of a $67,000 Victorian Government food relief grant, a new warehouse was constructed at Wendouree.
The warehouse will hold fresh stock, frozen food and other pantry staples. Visitors will be able to shop for what they need for a small $5 donation. Since the program began in 2017, the number of people seeking support has doubled. Many of the people who use the service are experiencing unemployment, homelessness or domestic violence. With the rising cost of food and petrol, the centre also welcomes pensioners who are struggling to keep up with the cost of living.
The church initiative started with the distribution of 25 weekly grocery packs and it has now expanded to 40 to 60 packs. Eight volunteers run the centre.
Soul+Food also plans to use the space to run social programs and hold courses on cooking and nutrition.
The launch of the new warehouse was attended by community and church representatives, including State Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison, Kallista Kaval, representing Victorian Police Minister Anthony Carbines, Ballarat deputy mayor Amy Johnson, Victorian Conference president Pastor Graeme Christian and Pastor Justin Bone.