Since its humble beginnings in 2013, Bendigo Foodshare has experienced significant growth and change.
They have witnessed a big increase in the number of people across Central Victoria needing to access food relief, significantly heightened during the sustained pandemic. At the same time, Bendigo Foodshare have seen a ground swell of support from the local community, signing up to volunteer or to donate food, money and other assistance.
According to the Foodbank Hunger Report 2021, during 2021, 1 in 6 adults in Australia hadn’t had enough to eat in the last year, while 1 in 3 adults struggling to meet their food needs were new to the situation.
While this increase in need has put pressure on the food relief sector and Bendigo Foodshare’s limited resources, Bendigo Foodshare has responded by rescuing and distributing 20% more food in 2020/21 than the previous year (828,000kg worth $6.21million in 2020/21) with incredible support from the community, including 200 active volunteers. This community led, place-based response has led to the Victorian State Government announcing Bendigo Foodshare as one of five Regional Food Hubs.
To support the ongoing issues around food security in Central Victoria, Bendigo Foodshare is working towards building a bigger purpose-built warehouse and community food hub, and in 2021 ran a successful fundraising campaign to secure $2.8 million for this project.
Support for the organisation’s growth and sustainability now and into the future is critical to the Board of Bendigo Foodshare, and as such they appointed Michelle Murphy as the new Chief Executive Officer.
“I’m very excited to have joined Bendigo Foodshare at this pivotal stage”, said Ms Murphy. Plans for the new warehouse are well and truly progressing, thanks to the Mission Possible fundraising campaign and the amazing generosity of our local community. There are also so many great initiatives Bendigo Foodshare is part of, including Cafes for Covid, YouFoods and the Community Food Pantry – all signs that community spirit is alive and well in Central Victoria”.
“It’s clear to me that Bendigo Foodshare has been punching above its weight for a long, long time”, Ms Murphy said. “I’m looking forward to supporting the staff and hundreds of volunteers who have been working tirelessly, particularly over these past two years, working alongside Bridget Bentley who will continue the great work she has been doing heading up our operations and community initiatives.”
Michelle has a long history leading innovative programs in the not-for-profit sector including in community and family services, women’s’ health and family violence services, and has a particular interest in social enterprise as a model for empowering people, while providing a sustainable funding base so community organisations can focus on their mission and grow their reach and impact.
The Board and staff at Bendigo Foodshare are excited about the opportunities that Michelle’s appointment represents for the organisation. Board Chair, Cathie Steele said Ms Murphy was chosen after an extensive and very competitive selection process. “Michelle’s strong background in the community not for profit sector will help us respond strongly and sustainably to the changing needs in our community through these challenging times.”