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COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS: FOODBANK VICTORIA

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COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS: FOODBANK VICTORIA

In recognition of Foodbank Victoria and their ongoing efforts towards food relief, we’re donating $30,000 to assist with their efforts in providing for those suffering from food insecurity over the holiday period. We also chatted with a pair of Foodbank volunteers, Kylie Mackinlay and Andy Knauth, about why they joined, their experience during the pandemic, and the impact of their work.

KYLIE MACKINLAY –FOOD PROGRAMS COORDINATOR

FOODBANK

Q: How did you begin working/ volunteering at Foodbank VIC?

A: I come from a café hospitality background, so my focus has always been about food and people. I’ve followed (stalked!) Foodbank Victoria for a couple of years and have always been impressed by the impact they have. The pandemic hit the hospitality industry hard and triggered a lot of self-reflection on where I wanted to be—and what I wanted to be doing—then this role popped up, ticking all the boxes!

Q: What is your favourite aspect of working with Foodbank VIC?

A: Working with a great team that makes a difference—ensuring families have food on their tables. What’s your most memorable moment working/volunteering at Foodbank? It would have to be a tie between watching Virginia Trioli broadcast live from the Greenspace (warehouse) and Steve’s infamous homemade cheesecake!

Q: Do you have to be a food connoisseur to work/volunteer at Foodbank?

A: No, there are so many different roles within Foodbank, from operations and logistics to marketing and fundraising. I’d say the majority in my team are foodies though!

Q: What’s it like to work/volunteer for the Foodbank “family”?

A: It’s heartwarming to see people’s appreciation and feel a positive contribution to the community. I love the diversity of people I get to meet and the diversity of the projects that we get to deliver.

Q: How has the pandemic impacted the demand for food?

A: Many people who've never dreamed of needing food relief services, have come forward. The pandemic has delivered a huge surge in demand, the extra cost of living pressures, highlighting the already significant inequalities when it comes to access to food.

Q: How did Foodbank need to adjust to the impact of the pandemic (i.e., restrictions, delivery of programs etc.)?

A: Like so many other organisations, we’ve had to adjust to working from home, and zoom meetings etc. Covid has added a layer of logistic difficulties for such a large team, that travels to so many people. But we’ve also started new programs. For instance, we opened an International Pop Up Store in response to the lack of support for our international students. And we’ve also adapted existing programs, like when we switched our Farms to Families 'farmers style market’ to a hamper drive through. And last but not least, the School Breakfast Club now delivers online cooking classes.

ANDY KNAUTH –VOLUNTEER

FOODBANK

Q: How did you begin working/volunteering at Foodbank VIC?

A: A lovely local friend told me that Foodbank were looking for a few more volunteers to help out before Christmas. I jumped at the opportunity. I called straight away and started the very next week. It’s now been 5 weeks and I’m loving every day I’m there.

Q: Why did you decide to work/ volunteer at Foodbank VIC?

A: I’ve been wanting to volunteer at Foodbank for the past 18 months, but due to the pandemic and lockdowns they were not taking on new people. I live locally, within walking distance to the Foodbank warehouse. I’ve been involved in the hospitality industry for a long time and have seen firsthand how much food goes to waste. Getting involved with Foodbank is my way of becoming part of the solution to food waste. There are people who have it tough, so for me to help with my time and energy is the least I can do. It feels good to give back.

Q: What is your favourite aspect of working with Foodbank VIC?

A: My favourite part of the day is picking the bulk food orders that go out to all the varied different charities, especially picking in the cold room on hot days.

Q: What’s your most memorable moment working/volunteering at Foodbank?

A: Walking in on my first day and being so warmly welcomed by Louise (one of the volunteer coordinators). I was so impressed at how the generous spirt of the Foodbank was on display everywhere.

Q: Do you have to be a food connoisseur to work/volunteer at Foodbank?

A: Definitely not. If anything, you need to be fit. I enjoy cooking myself and seeing all the different types of fresh produce and the packaged goods has motivated me to get cracking in the kitchen again. I’ve heard there are even Foodbank recipe cards available to inspire people to get cooking.

Q: What’s it like to work/volunteer for the Foodbank “family”?

A: It’s still early days but I already feel part of the Foodbank family and I have made some great friends. Everyone is respectful and friendly. I’m looking forward to learning new skills in other areas of the Foodbank group and meeting more of the family.

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