Plea for help: Christian Emergency Food Centre needs federal funding to survive

HORSHAM Christian Emergency Food Centre has pleaded with Member for Mallee Andrew Broad to maintain its $50,000 annual federal funding.

Committee members told Mr Broad, who visited them on Wednesday, the money was essential to their service.

“If we don’t get that $50,000 a year, we shut the doors,” president Ian Walter said.

Changes to which government department administers the grant caused the committee to highlight the importance of the Federal Government’s commitment.

Committee member Anne Mahony said the service had not struggled for support in the past.

“We’ve been blessed,” she said.

More than 80 people volunteer their time to ensuring desperate people in the Wimmera and southern Mallee do not go without food.

Mrs Mahony said churches, businesses and organisations including Horsham Rural City Council and Horsham Magistrate’s Court were generous with their support.

In some instances, she said people who had been involved with Horsham Christian Emergency Food Centre donated money.

Farmers who had received boxes of food during the drought had sent through cheques soon after the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline rolled out and provided some relief.

Client base

The emergency food centre has one paid worker and looks after 7000 people a year.

Volunteers at the Christian Emergency Food Centre.

Volunteers at the Christian Emergency Food Centre.

“About 260 people a month walk through the doors,’’ manager Barry Hutchinson said.

“Our biggest client base is the single person, followed by the single parent, then families, and then couples.”

Most of the people who seek help are aged between 16 and 30.

The service is open every weekday from 1pm until 4pm. On April 28, 27 people sought help within three hours. 

Volunteer Max Judd said many of the people the service helped were also homeless.

“We had a person who was living in the horse stables at the showground for nine months before he got a placement,” he said.

Others had been living in their cars.

“It’s a hidden thing,” Mr Hutchinson said.

'Tough' budget

Mr Broad said Tuesday’s Federal Budget would be tough.

“What I want is that the small projects don’t get cut,” he said.

“We need to make sure these sort of things are funded.” 

He also voiced his displeasure at raising Australia’s retirement age to 70.

“So many people aged 65 to 70 are contributing to their communities,” he said.

He said many facets of communities would crumble without devoted, retired volunteers.

The average age of Horsham Christian Emergency Food Centre’s volunteers is about 75.

“Our volunteers are retirees who come in for something to do,” Mrs Mahony said.

“We have a waiting list of people who want to work.”

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