Community partnerships help local charity provide hundreds of meals each week

Community partnerships help local charity provide hundreds of meals each week

Demand for one local charity's food relief programs have tripled since the start of the pandemic - but a new partnership is helping to ensure everyone gets the food they need.

The Southwest Mulitcultural and Community Centre (SWMACC) in Minto has just partnered with charity Dignity to expand the food relief program.

The new alliance adds to SWMACC's work with Campbelltown Council, FoodBank, Second Bite and more local organisations and volunteers.

Dignity provided SWMACC with a new freezer and deliveries or pre-packed frozen meals to distribute to those in the community most in need.

The dishes are prepared by Dignity's volunteers from fresh produce provided by OzHarvest and Second Bite.

SWMACC coordinator Mal Fruean said she was thankful to be working with Dignity.

"We're very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and partner with Dignity," she said.

"This partnership has only just begun and I look forward to working with them side by side as we continue."

Ms Fruean said there was a huge need for food relief in Macarthur.

"We already had a very busy food relief program and our numbers have tripled since Covid," she said.

"Between our Tuesday and Wednesday programs, we've got about 250 to 300 hampers and meals going out each week."

Ms Fruean said need for food was so great during the early days of the pandemic that she arranged with Campbelltown Council to have several fridges and freezers (which were not being used as all council facilities were shut down) sent to SWMACC's council-owned base to store all their food.

"I worked with the council, who have been so great to us, to get our base opened up again for a couple of days a week because people really needed food relief," she said.

"We had council rangers helping us to deliver hampers to seniors who couldn't come out to pick up the meals themselves.

"I couldn't have done any of this without their help, it was really invaluable.

"I'm blown away by the networks we have supporting each other. The praise doesn't belong to this centre, it's run by the community, for the community."

Ms Fruean said hampers were also delivered to international students at Western Sydney University and church groups for further distribution.

When council facilities reopened and the fridges and freezers were once again required in their original homes, SWMACC was able to purchase another freezer with a council Covid relief grant.

Ingleburn Rotary also donated a $500 Bunnings voucher which allowed the charity to purchase PPE and trolleys to assist with the food relief program, while Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong (who also volunteered his time to help) provided a big box of mini hand sanitisers.

Dignity also provided a freezer during the recent partnership, further allowing SWMACC to continue its good work.

Dignity chief executive and founder Suzanne Hopman said the organisation was proud to help out local communities.

"At dignity, we provide a range of innovative services that empower people experiencing homelessness or are at risk of experiencing homelessness," she said.

"Our Food Relief Program is a good example of this and partnerships with community-based organisations such as SWMACC ensures easy access to meals for vulnerable members of the community already being supported at the centre."

Ms Fruean said her volunteers were all trained in Covid safety, and many had undertaken the council's free food safety training.

Due to social distancing requirements, those wishing to provide assistance or those in need of support should call SWMACC to organise a suitable time for collection of meals on 9603 2500 or 0407 281 245. SWMACC is located at 4 Surrey Street, Minto.