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Food share operations co-ordinator Liz Field and volunteer Luke Carter at work. MORE than 85 tonnes of donated food was distributed to the needy in Warrnambool and district last year through a community food bank, but there are fears the service could crumble without renewed support.
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A special meeting will be held today to form a new leadership group to steer Warrnambool and District Foodshare to a more secure future, with a better chance of securing funds for expansion.

Every weekday a team of dedicated volunteers working from a shed at the Worn Gundidj Co-operative packs hampers for disadvantaged individuals and families who would otherwise struggle to enjoy wholesome food.

It also provides relief in times of emergency situations.

Foodbank Victoria provided goods worth $607,439 last year to the Warrnambool-based group, which was established in 2010.

It is supplemented by a local food “rescue” program using surplus products from Aldi and Woolworths supermarkets, Materia Brothers, Peaches and the community garden.

However, the service is floundering through lack of support from stakeholders, according to Community Southwest Ltd executive Allan Bassett.

“We were approached by Foodshare to help get it some strength and direction,” he said.

“The service is only surviving through the generosity of Worn Gundidj.

“It’s probably drifting because they don’t have the dedicated staff to take it to the next level.

“Our challenge is to progress the good work already done by calling for additional support for the committee, developing a business plan and adopting a revised constitution more appropriate for the business being undertaken.

“It’s not within our ambit to take over. We want to work with other organisations to provide support.”

Today’s meeting will be held at the Southern Way offices in Fairy Street at 12.30pm.

It will kick-start an application for charitable status for Foodshare, which will enable it to receive more financial assistance, particularly from philanthropic funds.

Another date will be set to elect and appoint seven stakeholder representatives for a committee of management.

Guest speaker, Dr Jane Stanley, a United Nations consultant, will speak today on regional food shares as hubs for social innovation.

Mr Bassett said other food share organisations had been able to expand with support from a strong local committee and board which enabled them to develop infrastructure and administration and training programs.

“In Warrnambool it would give rise to funding for buildings and transport,” Mr Bassett said.

“There’s a huge need for this service in our region.

“I hear about kids going to school hungry, who are assisted.”

Community Southwest is an alliance of not-for-profit organisations.

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