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Local Food Charity Lends a Helping Hand

Over the past three years, The Hand in Hand Community Project Moreton Shire has generated thousands of emergency hampers to help locals in need. A not-for-profit, grassroots organisation, Hand in Hand offers not only food bill relief, but a network for social and emotional support. Founder Nelli Waldron-Rapkins says, “I’ve been a single mum for 14 years and it is so tough. When you seek welfare help, you’re lucky to get a bag of non-perishable food with some noodles and baked beans. It’s not nutritional.

“Coming up to Christmas 2014, I was chatting with like-minded people about how especially hard that time of year is for those who are struggling, and we put our heads together and started making phone calls to food rescue organisations.”

Within a matter of weeks, Nelli and her small army of volunteers were handing out free fruit, vegetables and bread sourced from food rescue charities, OzHarvest and SecondBite, who source and redistribute surplus fresh rescued food from farmers, wholesalers, supermarkets, caterers, events et cetera.

“On our very first day, we were giving out trays of mangoes and boxes of rockmelon, and we sat down afterwards and said, ‘we need to find a way of better organising this.’”

Hand in Hand were soon distributing 50-60 overflowing food hampers every week. Boxes containing fruit, vegetables and bread remain free, or for a $10.00 donation recipients will also receive meat, dairy, cereal, milk, snack foods, toiletries and more, all purchased in bulk from ALDI Kallangur. The products on offer vary each week, and are designed to promote a healthy, balanced diet.

“Every week we do a meat product, milk, two pantry items and a fridge item, and we try to select ingredients for a meal plan. We also try to focus our food hampers around what’s going on at the time and what people need.

“Each week before school holidays end, we make sure that the hampers contain back to school food like muesli bars, and sandwich fillers like cheese and ham. Leading up to Christmas, we put the call out for small, new toy donations because we want to make sure that every child that comes through at Christmas gets a present.”

For the many regulars who attend each week, Hand in Hand represents more than just food bill relief. Lawnton resident, Lexcia, who has been a regular for 18 months says, “It’s my social interaction. We sit and talk and chat over a tea or coffee, and if you have a problem you can talk it out with other people. The support here is wonderful.”

The demand for the food hampers regularly outstrips supply, with many who have waited patiently in line having to be turned away. While Nelli would desperately love to offer more, her hands are tied by time and money restrictions.

“We don’t receive any funding, so we literally go by the skin of our teeth every week. Our account is very quickly running dry due to overheads like hall hire and public liability insurance, but we keep doing what we do because we do it so well.”

For more information on the food parcels or how to volunteer and donate, visit The Hand in Hand Community Project Moreton Shire Facebook page.

When: Every Thursday between 10am and 12 noon Where: QCWA Hall, 1431 Anzac Avenue, Kallangur


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