With the demand for emergency food supplies growing rapidly in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Byford Baptist Church has announced plans to ramp up operations at its free food market.
Each Thursday for more than three years, the entry to Byford Baptist Church has been lined with cardboard boxes, the room bustling with dedicated members and volunteers arranging fresh food hampers for some of the community’s most vulnerable.
The initiative was designed to help the growing number of families struggling in the Serpentine Jarrahdale area, with Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and OzHarvest later jumping on board.
In recent weeks, however, Byford Baptist Church community pastor Don Warner said there has been a significant shift in the number of people utilising the service, which was already serving upwards of 60 families.
With hundreds now without work, that number is steadily increasing and many are now accessing the service that hadn’t had to do so before.
“We normally meet very socially in this room, we have tea and coffee and get to know people,” pastor Don told Examiner Newspapers.
“Obviously, in the last few weeks that has disappeared under the new protocols.
“Under the current protocols, people arrive and we place a box in their car, which includes a mix of good nutritious food, including fruit, vegetables, dairy products and meat.
“I have certainly noticed faces we’ve never seen before and many of them are nervous about coming and asking for food.
“We try to be as friendly as we can and make sure that people feel welcome, but if you’ve worked for 20 years and have never had to ask for help, it’s not easy to do.
“The difficulty we have at the moment is that people are being asked to isolate, and with good reason, but they’re finding that really, really hard.
“Even just coming here, we’ve had people in tears. Just that brief meeting while passing over a box of food has been really helpful for people.
“Not just to feed them, but for their mental well-being and socially as well.”
In the very near future, pastor Don said the church planned to ramp up operations to compensate for the many other organisations that had shut down, even looking at running the market more frequently.
“We are hoping to do this more frequently throughout the week because the need is growing,” he said.
“People have thanked us just for being here because a lot of other outlets have shut down.”
If you live in the Serpentine Jarrahdale area and require assistance, contact Byford Baptist Church on 6117 5452.