What’s in the box?: Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison, Tim Matthews director at Eat Drink West and founder Kate Davis. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

Local food boxes get State backing

July 31, 2020 BY

A PROJECT aimed at connecting producers with consumers that was born out of the pandemic has received a cash boost from the State government.

The Your Local Boxes created by Eat Drink West are set for a $50,000 boost from the Stronger Regional Communities Program, with the money going towards speeding up the online component of the offering.

“This grant will go towards getting our e-commerce working and pivoting in a way that can support local producers even more,” said Kate Davis, Eat Drink West founder.

“This is about building on what we started during COVID to a bigger capacity to have a retail store.

“The desire for locally and sustainably produced food is stronger than ever. We’ll be able to harness that and bring it together.”

Packed full of produce from across the region and sold directly to consumers through the Eat Drink West website, Ms Davis said the boxes were something that was always on the cards, it’s just the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic sped up their rollout.

“It was in the plan, but we’re gone really fast to get here,” she said. “We’ve gone really fast in how else we can help support producers that have product and help them access the consumer.”

The Forge Pizzeria owner and a director at Eat Drink West, Tim Matthews, has taken on the role of coordinating the boxes.

As the pandemic’s hit, he’s seen the effects on all sides of the hospitality industry, from primary producers, to lost hours for staff, consumers not able get the foods they love, and on his own business.

“We’ve really had to keep thinking on our feet and trying to find the next thing to support everyone,” he said.

“Once JobKeeper came in we were able to stabilise a little bit and start to help out with some of the customer desires, and now we’re really trying to look after the producers and farmers’ markets.”

While you can find Mr Matthews’ products in the boxes, like 1816 Bakehouse bread, he also stressed that they were about sharing the offerings of as many producers as possible.

“In an ideal world Your Local Boxes will be its own business, as opposed to part of The Forge story,” he said.

“It’s important we look after all the different local producers. We’ll be rotating though different types of bread, today we’ve got 1816, tomorrow we’ll have something from Le Peche and we’ll do the same with the eggs and the vegetables as we evolve.”

Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison said getting government support for the Your Local Boxes was all about championing the region’s food, and in turn lifestyle.

“We know that local produce is something that Victoria wants, that Ballarat wants. People want to be able to know where their food comes from and we want to support producers,” she said.

“This grant is about making regional Victoria a better place to live. What makes a place great to live? Good food, good wine and good people.”

Find the East Drink West Your Local Boxes at eatdrinkwest.com.au.