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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Meal service provides food relief

Shopping limitations and the sight of empty supermarket shelves recently prompted Havelock Housing Association (HHA) to team up with the Canberra Racing Club (CRC) to provide a ready-to-eat meal service.

HHA CEO Andrew Rowe said while the service was started to help their residents, it is broadly designed to ease the demand for food relief as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

He said over a month ago when the impacts of the pandemic and isolation/quarantine requirements became clearer, it was important to think about how HHA could prepare as an organisation and help their residents prepare.

Mr Rowe said while “we haven’t had anyone in lockdown or quarantine in our community”, they are familiarising residents with the offering in case they need to access it.

HHA supports over 400 community housing residents in 180 properties across Canberra, including Havelock House which houses around 100 residents, some of whom live with high and complex needs including disability, physical and mental health issues.

Mr Rowe said their main focus was on those in Havelock House as they had heard stories of residents, many of whom don’t have access to transport (or stockpile goods), having to walk to various supermarkets to buy things to cook and eat.

CRC Chief Operating Officer Amy Squires said the decision to join forces with HHA is an extension of their existing relationship, through which the club donates food left over from race days to Havelock House. The new meal service now means CRC has been able to keep some of their kitchen staff employed.

“It is working really well and it’s growing, which shows there’s a dire need,” Ms Squires said, adding it has potential to become a long-term offering.

“We are going to keep doing it for as long as we can, as long as we can help people.”

The menu includes halal and vegetarian options, with prices starting from $7.70 per meal, while HHA subsides the cost for those in Havelock House. So far, more than 350 meals have been provided to residents as well as to the wider Canberra community.

“The main reason for including the broader community is we need to make it sustainable,” Mr Rowe said. The initiative has also received support from other community organisations with both Barnardos Canberra and Hepatitis ACT signing up for regular meal deliveries.

For more information about the ready-to-eat meal service, including how to order, visit the Havelock website here.

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