Food Link delivering ready-made meals to Shepparton schools

By Liz Mellino

Families from Shepparton's St Mel's Primary School who are doing it tough have received some ready-cooked meals from local businesses to ease the stress.

Organised through Shepparton's Food Link charity, the school has received around 120 meals over the past month to support any vulnerable families suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

With many parents having lost jobs or experiencing a significant decrease in weekly income, wellbeing officer Elisabeth Rodrigeuz said the service had allowed the school to support these families in a time of great need.

“It's been great to be able to connect with the families by offering and providing the food to them — even just to be able to stop and chat with them as well and build up those connections,” she said.

“We've had some fairly stressed families who have lost jobs or are waiting for Centrelink support to come through, so if we're able to reduce some of that stress for them then they're able to focus on their children, their learning and their jobs.”

Since its formation last month, Food Link has delivered around 1500 meals to people in need within the community.

The meals — which are purchased through community donations and cooked by local businesses that are also feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic — are delivered each week to ensure locals are eating well and have the resources available to them during this difficult time.

While the meals were originally delivered to agencies in the community, which then distributed them to their clients, the need was soon recognised for ready-made meals to be provided to local schools.

Food Link organiser Amy DePaola said the service quickly evolved and was now offering assistance to four locals schools.

“We have got some really positive feedback from the schools, who said the food is an excellent way to connect to some of their families under the circumstances at the moment,” she said.

“After touching base with them and from that initial contact we have really started delivering meals on a more regular basis.”

Along with St Mel's, Ms DePaola said Food Link was also providing meals to families at Gowrie Street Primary School, St Georges Road Primary School and Mooroopna Primary School, with plans to continue supporting them for as long as possible.

And while it was a win for the families doing it tough, Ms DePaola said it was also good for the businesses who were being paid to make the meals.

With St Mel's receiving around 70 meals this week, a portion of the nearly 300 Food Link distributes each week, Ms Rodrigeuz thanked the service, which has helped alleviate the stress of many local families.

“It's so great for families to know that people care, the school cares, the community cares and they feel loved and supported in the community,” she said.

To find out more or to make a donation, visit the Food Link Facebook page.