Wheels keep turning as community groups feed needy during COVID

Feeding the hungry: Hunter, Mia, Kaia, Quincy and Anastasia at the Thrive Early Learning Blakehurst community pantry which is on offer for anyone in the community who is doing it tough during COVID. Pictures: Supplied
Feeding the hungry: Hunter, Mia, Kaia, Quincy and Anastasia at the Thrive Early Learning Blakehurst community pantry which is on offer for anyone in the community who is doing it tough during COVID. Pictures: Supplied

As NSW faces a once-in-100-year pandemic, community services must continue to feed our most vulnerable residents.

The wheels keep moving at Sutherland Food Services, which has been delivering meals to the aged community of the shire for over 52 years.

Manager Susan Green said though the COVID-19 lockdown presented a challenge, it was "nothing we can't handle".

"Being identified as an essential service and rising to the various challenges our board, staff and volunteers have ensured a consistent, safe and efficient service to our customer base," Ms Green said.

"With the aged community being a high risk group, plus lockdown restrictions on family members, the meal service has been essential for continued nutrition, wellbeing checks and social contact."

The group runs its meals from a room it hires at the back of the Sutherland Hospital. Over 75 volunteers arrive masked-up, with PPE gear on and hit the road.

"The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive and appreciative," said Ms Green.

"We have tripled our customer base [during the pandemic] confirming the impact on our community."

Sutherland Food Services has been delivering meals to the aged community of the shire for 52 years - and COVID is no exception.

Sutherland Food Services has been delivering meals to the aged community of the shire for 52 years - and COVID is no exception.

Over in Blakehurst, Thrive Early Learning has launched a new community pantry program to give back to disadvantaged families.

Donna Mitrani, who looks after operations and education excellence at the centre, said the service was aimed at any families doing it tough during COVID - whether they had lost income or were homeless.

"We might be catering for people who are on the streets and don't have anywhere to cook the food right through to people who have a home and a kitchen but are struggling," Ms Mitrani said.

The pantry outside 2B James Street, Blakehurst, is exactly that: a pantry stocked with dried and tinned food items that community members who are in need are welcome to take.

"We are in an environment where the children can learn from an early age what it is to give to people less fortunate," Ms Mitrani said.

"The children can be involved in taking something from home, putting it on the shelf in the pantry, and they come in the next day and see it's no longer there.

"We are connecting our children with the broader community."