Foodbank Ballarat – Ministerial Response

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Original constituency question from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament –

My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers.

It is about strengthening food relief in my community to ensure healthy food reaches those in need. My question to the minister is: can you please advise me of the progress of the new Foodbank distribution centre in Ballarat?

Ballarat’s new food hub will expand Foodbank’s critical work, expanding its fresh food supply to families and creating new local jobs. I believe that all Victorians should have access to food and essential items, and it is great to see Foodbank Victoria’s Farms to Families program, which is a mobile market truck, in Wendouree each month offering clients from local charities access to a range of free nutritious and fresh produce.

I would also like to thank the many local food relief organisations in my community who provide much-needed support to individuals who need it the most.

Response from the Hon James Merlino, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers (17th Nov 2021) –

In recognising that every Victorian deserves access to fresh and healthy food the Victorian Government is investing in community-based food relief services, which will ensure that all families can stay happy and healthy. The Government has committed $10 million to establish new food relief distribution centres in Ballarat and Morwell. Once complete in late 2022, the new centres will enable a coordinated food relief response across the state.

In June 2021 Foodbank Victoria submitted an expression of interest with Development Victoria for the purchase of 2.4 acres of prime industrial land located within the Ballarat West Employment Zone (BWEZ). Foodbank Victoria has been advised that it has been successful in securing a site within the BWEZ development. A number of suitable sites in Morwell are currently being evaluated by Foodbank Victoria and its advisers.

Foodbank Victoria has appointed H-Troon as the project builder to deliver the two regional hub facilities, in Ballarat and Morwell.

Foodbank Victoria and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing finalised a capital funding agreement in August 2021.

I am pleased to hear from the Member from Wendouree that Foodbank Victoria’s Farms to Families program is valued by the community. I am advised that the Foodbank Farms to Families markets are held across Victoria. Each week market truck rolls into a different regional centre – Ballarat, Morwell, Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance. Around 200 struggling families and vulnerable Victorians are invited by local charities to attend and help themselves to market fresh produce of the highest quality. On average, each market delivers 2,500kg of fresh food with dignity and respect. Local communities are always grateful for the choice and quality of what’s on offer. With the advent of our regional Hubs into both Ballarat and Morwell, the Farms to Families market will be able to broaden both its impact and diversity with many long-range transport, storage and logistical challenges falling away.