FOODBANK Victoria’s Morwell Community Food Centre officially opened last week.

The opening welcomed Minister for Carers and Volunteers Ros Spence, Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing, and Member for Eastern Victoria Renee Heath to its Commercial Road premises.

Brought on to battle the cost of living crisis, the new depot features a community supermarket, kitchen, and garden that will provide opportunities for charities to help those in need.

“Here, we have the community supermarket, which will partner up with Victoria Uni so that students can come and collect some food. In the kitchen, there will be demonstrations on how to prepare healthy food and cook that food yourself, and then there will also be a garden on site,” Mrs Spence said.

“I am really proud that, as a government, we have been able to contribute $10 million to Gippsland and Ballarat Food Centre, in addition to the $56 million we have invested since 2020 into food relief. That really tells you the extent of the food relief issue that we have in the state at the moment.

“Within the cost of living crisis, more people are going without a healthy meal than ever before. People who might have not experienced food insecurity are now seeking out where they can get food relief.”

In partnership with local charities, the new Food Centre will support Foodbank Victoria’s ‘Farms to Families’ program in Morwell, a series of pop-up markets that provide up to 300 families with enough fresh food for a week.

Since beginning operations with local charity partners in May, the Morwell and Ballarat food centres have distributed nearly 20,000 kilograms of fresh and chilled food throughout the local areas. This includes programs such as the ‘Breakfast Club’, which provides food to students before school.

Dairy: The Morwell Foodbank depot is now open for business, which includes a supermarket. Photograph: Katrina Brandon

“This food centre will be the hub for the work across the Breakfast Club. We have been very proud to be able to support that program to make sure that every student has access to a good meal before they sit down for class for the day,” Ms Shing said.

“This is a really wonderful reflection of all of the work that is already in the communities within our region to provide support for people in need. We look forward to seeing more partners come on board and to make sure that the efforts of our volunteers are recognised.”

Latrobe City Council Mayor, Darren Howe said, “The new Foodbank Distribution Centre in Morwell is an essential facility for charities and emergency food relief locally and throughout Gippsland. At a time when food insecurity in Latrobe City is higher than the Victorian average, this Centre will play a pivotal role in helping those in need.”

“The Distribution Centre will help local charities to quickly provide food to those in need. Previously, food had to be sent from Melbourne, so help was not as accessible.

“The Foodbank Distribution Centre in Morwell will serve as a central location to support the Gippsland region, reaching as far as Lakes Entrance and surrounding areas.”

Reminiscing about his Gippsland adventures, Foodbank Victoria Chief Executive, Dave McNamara said he was excited to share the food centres with Gippsland communities and is looking forward to further contributions to the area.

Stock: Shelves are full to the brim ready to help those in need. Photograph: Katrina Brandon

“I am really excited to be able to share this with you and the whole community across Gippsland. We are looking forward to the magic that will happen outside this centre and seeing these great communities around here not just survive but thrive as food does,” he said.

“I experienced the hospitality of a family when I tried to ride my bike from Bairnsdale to Omeo, and they gratefully helped me with a couple of glasses of water and a nice sandwich.

“It is great to have food, but food is just food. It’s not until you bring people into it that the magic happens, and that is what this set is all about.”

Mr McNamara mentioned that while Gippsland is a beautiful area or “God’s country,” he could see that it is a challenging terrain that has experienced multiple natural disasters.

“It doesn’t matter what your path is that you take in life, but the community that helps and supports you through that journey is what is important, as always, food that is the centre of bringing people together,” he said.

For more information, go to: