Giving hope in Melbourne during COVID-19

As the COVID-19 crisis continues in Victoria, Hope City Mission in greater Melbourne has struggled to source food for its clients from its usual networks, reaching out to Sanitarium for help.
The mission’s services include a foodbank, financial literacy workshops and advocacy for those in financial crisis, taking a wholistic approach to help people in the City of Maroondah and surrounding suburbs get back on their feet. The organisation services clients from all walks of life, including people recently affected by COVID-19 through lost income or fleeing domestic violence.

“Our catchcry is ‘bringing hope to our city’, whether it be food on the table or a roof over someone’s head,” said Vanessa Bonica, CEO of Hope City Mission.
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Since COVID-19, food scarcity has become a real concern for the organisation. Previously, a local organic bakery supplied their bread, a corporate partner donated fruit and veggie boxes, and they purchased extra necessities from Foodbank Victoria. However, they experienced a significant supply decrease earlier this year as food relief was prioritised to bushfire affected areas, which was then compounded in March when COVID-19 hit.

“We saw a decrease of 70%, worth $5,000 a month to replace, and we were unable to obtain supermarket vouchers. We approached food distributors but prices had escalated and it was more expensive than buying directly from the supermarket!” said Vanessa.

So Vanessa and her team contacted food suppliers, including Sanitarium, lobbied government for funding and picked up a new fruit and veggie supplier. Sanitarium has donated a total of 18,360 serves of Weet-Bix™ cereals, So Good™ dairy free milks and Sanitarium Peanut Butter to their cause.
Vanessa explains that receiving donations like those from Sanitarium reaffirms to the clients that they are seen as worthy and not forgotten.

“To see clients’ faces as they open up their food parcels, and more importantly their children’s faces, that’s priceless. For people who have been in horrific situations there’s no normality, yet we can still put Weet-Bix and milk on the table and peanut butter on their toast. People think it’s just food – but it’s more than food, it’s giving hope, and that’s what we’re about.”
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