Community Food Program
You’ve just escaped death, fleeing your war-torn home country in search of safety for your family. After making it to Australia, you now risk homelessness and destitution, unable to work and with little help from the government. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many asylum seekers.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Community Food Program
Jan 2019 - Dec 2020
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Inc. is Australia’s largest community-led, not-for-profit organisation providing advocacy, aid and health services for all people seeking asylum.
The Melbourne-based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), provides support to those living in the community while their immigration status is being resolved. During this time, a large number of these people are forced to live below the poverty line, unable to work due to visa restrictions or personal circumstances. Put simply, many asylum seekers are facing destitution.
The ASRC deliver over 30 programs that aim to help improve the circumstances of asylum seekers in Australia. Food security remains a core objective of the ASRC since its inception in 2001. Foodbank is the ASRC’s flagship program and is now part of the Community Food Program, which we’re helping to fund.
Foodbank is in effect a free supermarket, providing weekly groceries for asylum seekers. The majority of the items are donated by the community. People can shop for items using a points system according to their family size and the nutritional value of the items. Although the Foodbank is now part of the broader Community Food Program, we also supported this as a stand-alone service from August 2016 – July 2018.
Usually five days a week, people seeking asylum can sit down and enjoy a free, nutritious meal together. The ASRC normally delivers up to 4,400 meals every month.1 For many, the community meal is their only hot meal for the day.
All areas of the program are staffed largely by volunteers. Some of the volunteers are seeking asylum themselves and this allows them to gain invaluable work experience in a cross-cultural setting.
Normally, Foodbank and Community Meals programs offer food security to over 650 people each week.2
Our Community Program funding will allow these worthwhile services to continue expanding, meaning even more asylum seekers can access good food, leading to improved emotional, social and nutritional wellbeing.
Demand on the ASRC Foodbank’s services has increased by 80% during the COVID-19 pandemic and the centre now supports more than 1,000 individuals across 400+ households, almost half of whom are children. 3 Their kitchen has adapted and currently their revised food program provides take-home community meals, pre-made essential food and grocery packages, and a home-delivery service of meals and food packages for the most vulnerable – an important lifeline in the middle of one of the hardest crises we've ever seen.
Volunteering in the Community Meals Program
Having been supported by the ASRC in the past, Kamla understands what these vulnerable people are experiencing and how important this program is to them. She has been volunteering in the ASRC Community Meals Program for almost two years, where her beaming smile lights up the kitchen several times a week. “I feel good, helping other people, people like my food,” Kamla says.
We have also supported the following ASRC projects:
1 Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Grant Interim Update Report, February 2020.
2 Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Our Work /Food and Material Support, viewed 9 July 2020.
3 COVID-19 impacts update from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, 3 July 2020.