Online pantry open for all

December 9, 2023 BY

Community care: Since establishing the Ballarat Virtual Pantry last month, Kelly Bevan has made several food drop-offs herself to families in need, either from her own surplus or from donated stock. Photo: TIM BOTTAMS

A NEW Facebook group is bringing the neighbourly tradition of food, produce, and leftovers sharing into an online setting with the aim of battling food insecurity.

While out at her Warrenheip property, Kelly Bevan said the idea to start the Ballarat Virtual Pantry was to her “a bolt of lightning moment.”

“I’ve seen lots of food pantries and I thought wouldn’t it be great to have something like that but virtual where people have something within their own neighbourhood,” she said.

“There’s been a lot of posts about food security with families struggling.

“For us, there’s that theory of we live out in the country so we can go next door to get a cup of sugar.

“We still have that neighbourly vibe out here and it’d be nice to create that more within the town.

“It’s also about sustainability. You don’t have to go across town to get a food hamper if someone’s got something close by.”

Launched in mid-November, the Ballarat Virtual Pantry is a platform for people to share their surplus food and produce for others to collect and make use of.

Though she said it’s the first time she’s endeavoured something like the virtual pantry, Ms Bevan has spent years donating leftover eggs from her small chicken coop to friends, families, and neighbours.

With 300 members joining the group within its first week, Ms Bevan said the initiative looks to be a much-needed one.

“Straight away people were jumping on and made an effort to look into their cupboards to put things up,” she said.

“There’s been a lot of activity already of people dropping off and collecting food. I’m hoping it’s something that will build more over time.”

Ms Bevan said she has ideas for how the initiative can develop.

“It would be great to have drop off zones at different spots during the week where a non-profit can take things in say, Sebastopol on a Monday and Ballarat East on a Tuesday,” she said.

“We’re thinking this can go right up to the outskirts of Ballarat, anywhere within a short drive. I’d be keen to see the page replicated in other areas. I only found one thing similar to this in Sydney.”