Our Place Society is facing pressure from the rising cost of food prices, as well as the increase in people accessing its free meal program.
The charity says it provides over 1,000 meals per day. In the first six months of 2022 there was a 35 per cent increase in the number of meals compared to the same period in 2021.
In 2022 there were 185, 895 meals served, compared to 137,388 in 2021.
“Our dining room is becoming busier every day as we see more people struggling to afford basic needs – and there is no more basic need than food,” said Julian Daly, CEO of Our Place.
“Our kitchen does an incredible job in serving hundreds of nutritious meals every single day, but we are definitely feeling the pinch this year. Donations are flagging and food costs are rising, which is a difficult obstacle to overcome.”
On top of this increase in demand, food suppliers are warning the charity of an incoming increase in food prices.
“I’m definitely concerned,” Brian Cox, food services manager for Our Place’s housing sites said in a release. “My suppliers are telling me to brace for a 30 per cent increase across the board.”
The biggest cost for the service is protein, which is where the majority of donations are spent.
“I’m very skilled at stretching a dollar, but now I’m worried it may snap,” Cox said.
Additionally, Our Place generally receives vegetables from over 30 local farmers, but the weather has delayed harvest which has impacted the Victoria community food hub and partners at The Farmlands Trust.
“Along with serving balanced nutrition, we also love to support local farmers,” says Cox. “Not only is it fresher and tastier, but it also helps reduce our carbon footprint. That’s important to us as a vital community partner.”
Our Place is hoping more people will donate to its meal program in order to ensure access to food for those accessing the services.
“We are nothing without our donors, and the support of the community has always been incredible,” Daly said. “Unfortunately, we are struggling this year to make ends meet.”