Help one box at a time

October 23, 2021 BY

Giving: Kerryn Phillips is aiming to help families through programs such as The One Box and her work in two primary schools. Photo: JONATHON MAGRATH

KERRYN Phillips was driving one day when she heard Martin Halphen talking on the radio about his latest initiative, The One Box.

Originally launched in Melbourne, the program provides families in need across Australia with a free weekly box of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and bread.

Since then Ms Phillips has been determined to bring the program to Bendigo to help ease the growing problem of food insecurity in the region, and reached out to The One Box.

Over the last few years, the initiative has supported hundreds of Bendigo families.

“Food insecurity has been around forever, we mightn’t be aware of it, and it mightn’t be what people see in regards to families these days, but I know a lot of families who would struggle not only to feed their children but maybe even to feed themselves,” she said.

Ms Phillips is the student wellbeing and family support worker at California Gully and Quarry Hill primary schools.

She works closely with school staff and parents to understand some of the problems families may be facing and ensuring those most in need of fresh food are able to receive it.

She said often middle-class families are one pay check away from not being able to put food on the table, and fresh food is often neglected in order to afford utility bills and rent.

“If their car breaks down, they get a $1000 bill, not many people have $1000 in the bank. Not many people have parents or friends they can ask to get help from.

“If we can help by providing food to support families, it can take the pressure off, and they can pay those bills so they don’t get cut off.

“Providing food is a practical way to support those families who have a real shortfall in their budget.”

Originally, Ms Phillips picked up the boxes from The One Box and delivered them herself, however a collaboration with Bendigo Foodshare saw the organisation offer to deliver the boxes across town in their van.

Also through Foodshare, Ms Phillips helped establish a “social supermarket” at California Gully Primary School for anyone to pick up food.

However, the food through Foodshare can vary and families may be unsure of what food they’ll get.

“With the One Box food boxes, they go to the same family every week for the whole year,” Ms Phillips said.

“They’re direct from the farmer so they’re very consistent. You get in seasoned fruit and vegetables, two litres of milk and a loaf of bread.”

According to The One Box, 150 boxes have been delivered to local schools and community groups in Bendigo each week since April, totalling over 60,000 kilograms for the school year.

Ms Phillips said the initiative’s community-based approach has helped remove some of the barriers to approaching food insecurity.

“I’m really grateful for One Box continuing to support schools in the Bendigo region,” she said. “We don’t ask people why they need it, we just give, and that’s what One Box does, they just give.”

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