Far North Coast Food Recovery rescues edible food from food establishments across the region. Two refrigerated vans collect food donations and transport to local community kitchens where meals are prepared with the support of community volunteers. These meals are in turn provided to individuals and families in need. The free distribution is carried out through community pantries, hampers and pre-made frozen emergency meals at Consortium of Neighbourhood Centres (CONC) across the North Coast.
A major advantage of working together is that they are geographically covering the whole North Coast with kitchens in South Grafton, Kyogle, Nimbin, Mullumbimby, Evans Head and Pottsville. Each of these locations is home to Neighbourhood Centres that run outreach programs to all vulnerable and socially isolated communities in their proximity.
Community members who access these meals are reliant on both the sustenance and the security of the meals as well as the social interaction. Delivery to remote locations is also made possible with the refrigerated vans and willing volunteer drivers.
Demand has grown with recent events such as bushfires, COVID 19 and the floods. Support via a Community Grant from Northern Rivers Community Foundation allowed for continued operational expense of two refrigerated vans plus associated costs with volunteer training, education, reporting and supervision.
During the major COVID response period from around December to February 2021/2022 the vans doubled up (in excess of the grant request) as a delivery service for housebound COVID clients of all the CONC centres. Post COVID, the vans were once again used for this function following the flooding events of early 2022. This enabled the service delivery of food which had been either been salvaged as part of the Far North Coast Food Recovery Program, or donated by residents to help in the flood aftermath, to flood affected residents across the Northern Rivers.
Despite the challenges of COVID and then both food recovery vehicles requiring repairs after water damage from the floods, the lower Mid-Richmond vehicle was delivering food approximately 12 hours a day, seven days a week from 1 March to Mid-April 2022.
This amazing outcome was achieved over and above the grant expectations due to having a structured food recovery program operational before a disaster.