The Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church Pantry received funding recently from the City of Newcastle through the “Boost our City Community Sector Grant”. The local food relief charity supplies low-cost pantry staples, bread, meat, fruit and vegetables to families in need. More than 50 families benefit each week from the volunteer-run service.
“We were very blessed to receive funding to go towards transportation and refrigeration needs,” said Pantry coordinator, Teresa Clark.
“At this time food relief is really needed to help with those who are financially stressed and without the resources they may have had prior to the pandemic, and to continue to help those who are vulnerable,” said Ms Clark.
Due to COVID-19 related restrictions, the Pantry has changed their service from a weekly meal and self-service to pre-packed hampers given out in a courtyard, a drive-through service and a home delivery option.
“We are so grateful to be able to provide for the needs of the community here and for a city council that is willing to help us in doing so, especially during this time of COVID,” said Pr Justin Torossian, Pastor of Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Pantry guest Mark has a young family and lost his job due to the pandemic. “All of a sudden you needed to make a small amount of money go along way,” said Mark.
“The Boost Our City Grants were one of the city’s responses to try and help people through the pandemic,” explains City of Newcastle Ward 2 Councillor Carol Duncan.
“There are a lot of people who are finding getting through this awful time even more difficult than it was previously, so this pantry is essential, it’s the lifeblood that sustains a lot of people that come through here each week,” said Cr Duncan.
Funding for transportation was urgently needed as the Pantry’s private transport funding donor lost income due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. This funding will allow the Pantry to gain access to a good quantity of fresh food and low-cost meat. The funding also provided for a bigger fridge to store more fresh food during the week to give out on service days.
“It has been a little more difficult to get adequate amounts of fresh produce during COVID, so being able to take what is offered during the week and storing it until service days is really helpful,” said Ms Clark.
The Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church Pantry has been operating for more than three years with over 100 volunteers supporting the charity over that period.
“We want to thank the City of Newcastle for the funding and we also need to thank Foodbank and Second Bite for their constant ongoing support,” said Ms Clark.