Mission Possible: Bendigo Foodshare calls for community support to raise $1.8M for new home and community food hub.

  • Critical need for $1.8 million home and community food hub for Bendigo
  • Demand for food relief has increased by 30%
  • Overwhelming generous support to date

Bendigo Foodshare is in ‘critical need’ for a new home and is appealing to the community for help so more than 12,000 people across central Victoria can be fed each week.

Named “Mission Possible”, the campaign seeks to raise $1.8M to fit out a larger warehouse and create a community food hub at the organisation’s new headquarters at 123 Garsed Street, Bendigo.

Bendigo Foodshare Manager Bridget Bentley said today the campaign had attracted $1.4 million so far, but it still needed an additional $400,000 to complete the community food hub. The hub will include social supermarket, pop up café, a cooking skills training area, and a food garden.

She said the organisation had been “overwhelmed in reaching the $1.4 million milestone”. This had been through the generosity of the Victorian State Government, Kirkland Lake Gold, ISPT, Y2 Architects and Fairbrother, The Yulgilbar Foundation, Hazeldenes and major local donors.

Bendigo Foodshare was extremely excited and grateful to announce at the launch that the Hazeldenes Family Trust donated an amazing $500,000 towards the ‘Mission Possible’ campaign. This donation means Bendigo Foodshare can move to their new home and provide a community food hub to provide greater food relief services across Central Victoria.

John Hazeldene said, “Hazeldenes will always support Foodshare because it’s the right thing to do for the community. We’re shocked and concerned by the stat that every one child in five is going to school hungry.”

“The additional help from our generous community will enable us to build a larger facility and continue the fight against food poverty in our region,” Ms Bentley said.

“Prior to 2019, we were helping feed 8,000 people a week through our 90 partner agencies. This figure increased to 12,875 people a week in 2019 and during COVID, our partner agencies estimated a 30 percent increase in demand.  With the wind up of Job Keeper and Job Seeker, there is no indication of the need slowing down.”

Ms Bentley said to keep up with the increasing demand during COVID-19, Bendigo Foodshare doubled its volunteer workforce, while the amount of food sourced and distributed rose from 755,000kg to 893,000 kg.

“We need to do more and cannot because we’ve outgrown our facility at Long Gully. Our new warehouse will double our food storage capacity, with bigger cool, cold and ambient storage,” said Ms Bentley.
Bendigo Foodshare Chair, Cathie Steele, said the Garsed Street facility was ‘critical’ to achieving long-term food security across Greater Bendigo and Central Victoria.

“Bendigo Foodshare’s vision is to reduce food poverty. However, we realise that food rescue and warehousing is only part of the solution to building a food secure community. This is why we partner with local groups and organisations to deliver programs that reduce barriers to accessing help, and build skills in growing, cooking and sharing food,” said Ms Steele.  

“Our new home will be a community food hub. It will be an inclusive and inspiring place where people can develop growing, cooking and sharing skills and can access fresh, healthy food cheaply and in a dignified way,” she said.

Ms Steele said the organisation is “so grateful for the support we are receiving from our community, from the Victorian State Government, Kirkland Lake Gold, ISPT, the City of Greater Bendigo, Y2 Architects and our recently appointed builder, Fairbrother Construction.”

Kirkland Lake Gold’s Director of Environment and Government Relations, Felicia Binks, said: “Kirkland Lake Gold is proud to support Bendigo Foodshare with the relocation to the new warehouse on Garsed Street. The new warehouse project will allow Bendigo Foodshare to expand the essential services it provides to the community and lead to increased food security and sustainable outcomes for the Greater Bendigo Region.”

Michael Josey, General Manager of Fairbrother Victoria is encouraging trades and suppliers to get involved in the development of the community food hub.

“We are joining with Bendigo Foodshare and the greater construction industry in the delivery of the Bendigo Foodshare warehouse and community food hub project. Fairbrother, Y2 Architecture and many other suppliers and trades are coming together in this fantastic initiative to grow this food hub. If you would like to get on board this initiative, please make contact with the Fairbrother office,” he said.

Ms Bentley encouraged everyone in the community to join the campaign.  

“To create our community food hub space, we want this to be a true community effort,” she said. “We encourage everyone to ask themselves – ‘what’s their mission possible’? There are so many ways to help. Every cash or in-kind donation counts. It’s a big goal, but is ‘mission possible’ if we all work together.”

To get involved with the Bendigo Foodshare ‘Mission Possible’ campaign or donate go to: bendigofoodshare.org.au.