A GROUP formed to reduce waste has taken on the responsibility of helping those who need it most.
Geelong Community Pantry founder Bianca Boehmke is currently one of eight members who make several deliveries each week to people in need of food, however, her initial idea for the group was far humbler.
“I started the group as somewhere people could just share food and things from their pantry they were getting rid of,” Ms Boehmke said.
“It was only about six weeks ago we had a member come to the group and basically say ‘I can’t seem to get any help, I have no food and I don’t know what to do’, and everyone just donated heaps and heaps of stuff. People even went to the supermarket and got food for her.
“Next thing you know someone else said ‘can I get some help?’, and then we started collecting goods and putting them into packages and sending them off.”
The donations multiplied to the point where there was too much for Ms Boehmke to deliver herself, but other volunteers soon stood up.
People outside the group have also begun helping. Leopold Coles recently placed collection boxes near the entrance of their store for people to donate non-perishables to.
Good Deed Face Masks also donated 200 masks to be used by the group’s volunteers and go in their care packages.
Ms Boehmke said rather than acting as an alternative to major charities the group is providing interim support for people waiting for further assistance.
“A lot of the big charities are really under pressure with everything that’s going on, so then they have this wait time before they can get to people, and what we do is fill that gap in,” she said.
“So, we’ll give them an emergency food supply right now and that gets them through until the bigger guys can get to them.”
Ms Boehmke said the group’s rapid rise has highlighted the need for the service it provides.
“It’s really just been the last three weeks that it has gone absolutely crazy.
“A lot of people we deliver to are self-isolating, they’ve got very poor health and can’t get out to foodbank and places like that because they don’t have a car, or they can’t get out.
“Just because they are poorer and they are struggling, they’re kind of cut off to the resources that can help them.”
People wanting to contribute to the group or seeking help can head to Geelong Community Pantry’s Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/263775291298405/.