Soup van marks anniversary

Michelle Slater

SAINT Vincent De Paul Society celebrated the first year anniversary of its soup van service in Traralgon last week with 123 meals served on Tuesday night.

St Vincent Traralgon soup van president Sue MacManus said they started serving between 30 and 40 meals every week on a Tuesday 12 months ago, however, the number of people accessing the service has grown exponentially.

Ms MacManus said they served 5666 meals for the year in Traralgon and Churchill which opened in February 2019.

“We do Tuesday night in Traralgon and Friday in Churchill,” she said.

The Traralgon soup van makes three stops on Shakespeare and Cameron streets and at Victory Park to serve hot meals.

On a Friday the soup van stops at The Hub and on Glendonald Park in Churchill.

Ms MacManus said the soup van had 35 volunteers on its roster every week and they also served meals to boarding houses, flats and houses whenever there was a need.

“For some people suffering from financial hardship, some people living below the poverty line, sometimes they require the soup van service cause they can’t get out, so we go to them,” she said. She said the increase in the number of people accessing the soup van in both towns showed some people have been struggling to put food on the table.

“That just shows how difficult it is for people to make ends meet now. With bills going through the roof they have to sometimes make the decision of paying the bills or feeding their family so if we can help out in that regard then they can pay their bills,” she said.

Ms MacManus said while the number of people accessing the soup van during street stops had slightly dropped in winter, the volume of meals volunteers dispatched remained.

“They might leave children at home

and come and get the food and take it back,” she said.

She said the soup van was also instrumental in linking people experiencing isolation with their community.

“We don’t just offer food. We offer friendship to people and people are very lonely out there,” Ms MacManus said.

The van has items such as blankets, sleeping bags, beanies and scarves on board to hand out to people in need of them.

Morwell resident Katrina Morrison and her parents Kevin and Margaret Morrison volunteer for the soup van service.

Katrina said her parents had been with the soup van since its inception and her mum made eco-friendly bags that were distributed to clients.

Ms MacManus said the Morrisons were fantastic volunteers who gave their time to help disadvantaged people in the community.