I recently met a mother with two children buying some fruit, yoghurt, juice and a couple of tuna meals in tins. She caught my eye when she asked the IGA checkout operator for a couple of spoons. As I walked out she was returning to her car and talking to her children about where they were going to park to sleep for the night.
I haven’t met him yet, but I have been told that a local gentlemen regularly checks the bins for food.
And, our local Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) President has commented to me about the increasing demand for food vouchers.
Homelessness and food insecurity are as real in rural areas as they are in the CBDs and suburbs.
Just as I was being struck deeply by all this, I received a call from Lyn Buchanan, the Somerset Regional Council Community Development Coordinator.
“Loretta, could the Anglican Church start a foodbank?” she asked.
Given the size of our parish and the average parishioner age, realistically our parish couldn’t (or at least not independently).
However, the Brisbane Valley Churches Together (BVCT) could. Our ecumenical group is marked by six denominations regularly worshipping together. Individually most of us have small, aged congregations. But collectively we have a critical mass of age, abilities, skills and numbers.
Perhaps providentially our next combined service was scheduled soon after Lyn broached the subject of a local foodbank, and I was leading it. I proposed that BVCT accept the opportunity to initiate an ecumenical foodbank in Esk and Toogoolawah. A collective sigh of relief that we “could do something” was accompanied by an enthusiastic response. Our volunteer drive drew 24 helpers — a feat that no individual Brisbane Valley church could have achieved on its own.
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Through collective prayer and collaboration, our Foodbank has been blessed with premises for secure food storage, volunteer shoppers, packers and servers, equipment and donations from local organisations and groups. We’ve had to keep in mind that food rescue organisations SecondBite and OzHarvest are not options in our neck of the woods due to the travelling distance and that sourcing items for food parcels presents its own creative challenges given we don’t have a Coles, Woolies or Aldi.
As we launch our foodbank in early December, please hold us in your prayers. The need is great, and we are very keen to respond to human need in loving service. Please pray that we may be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, compassionate to those we seek to serve and creative and collaborative in our work together.
Editor’s note: The Bush Ministry Fund solely funds rural ministry in our Diocese, and it is the only fund that financially supports rural ministry in our Diocese. The Bush Ministry Fund money boxes are a fun and easy way for individuals, families, parishes and schools to donate to bush ministry in our Diocese. Order your BMF money box today by emailing Helen Briffa in the Western Region office via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07 4639 1875.