A drive 100kms north of Bendigo takes you to the small town of Pyramid Hill. We’ve known that a great bunch of people live there since we started partnering with this community towards the end of 2020 to support their local food relief efforts. They’re so easy to work with; passionate, committed and they make things happen. We’ve seen this through working with them to purchase culturally appropriate food funded by the State Government, and their participation in two rounds of our Cafes for COVID initiative to support local businesses make meals for food relief.
We also knew they are a multiculturally diverse town, with a large vibrant Filipino community making up more than 20% of the population, and recently arrived Kenyan families. But what we didn’t appreciate is something that can only be experienced by visiting and meeting the locals.
Pyramid Hill is a vibrant, cohesive and collaborative community, that celebrates its diverse cultures, deeply cares for one another, and has strong community connections across many demographics. It is so special, that Pyramid Hill has been recognised around the world as a successful model of a cohesive multicultural community.
During a visit in August we saw their community in action, catching up with Fiona the Principal at Pyramid Hill College, Imelda from the Unified Filipino Australian Association Incorporation, Tanya from Pyramid Hill Lions Club and Kim from Pyramid Hill Neighbourhood House to chat about their food relief programs. Together they support diverse groups of people doing it tough within their community, including elderly people living alone; farmers who have been struggling in silence; and newly arrived migrants settling in.
The Pyramid Hill College supports students through a breakfast program, while the United Filipino Organisation runs a monthly food relief program with food from Bendigo Foodshare. Any left-over food from either program is shared with the Pyramid Hill Neighbourhood House, who provides support through a free open pantry that is accessible to all.
Through our partnership, they support 30-40 people per month and have distributed 6,156kg of food in the last 12 months – that’s over 12,000 meals!
“Having the food pantry here has been a god send for many people. There are people in our community who weren’t expecting that they’d need help. It’s open 24hrs a day, so that people can access it privately during the night.”
“We help new Filipinos and Kenyans coming out with financial support. It’s a huge cost to migrate. We don’t understand why there isn’t more Government support to migrate when they’re coming to work and fill jobs on farms. Instead, it’s our tiny volunteer team trying to offer whatever support we can!”
“We know there are lots of farmers struggling, but they won’t tell anyone. We’ve learnt over the years that the way to support them is to do it through their trusted sources, like their rural finance adviser.”
With the support from the Victorian Government, we are once again able to support the local Filipino and Kenyan communities by purchasing food that is culturally appropriate to them (including large bags of rice, eggs, UHT milk, curry powder, chilli powder and Filipino noodles) and to engage their local businesses to make more ready-to-eat meals for their food relief program.
We are also excited to work with Pyramid Hill College to deliver our in-school cooking program Cooking For Change with funding support by VicHealth JumpStart. We will support the students through our cooking program to share their cultures with their peers and their community.
If you’d like a taste of Pyramid Hill for yourself, look out for their 2022 Pyramid Hill Fiesta, which is a celebration of Australian, Filipino and other cultures through food, music and fun. We’ve also been told they are the focus of an upcoming ABC Backroads program!