Community members in the Hobart suburb of Brighton have banded together with Red Cross and a range of other organisations to combat food insecurity and cost-of-living stress.
Speaking at the start of NAIDOC Week 2022, Red Cross Tasmanian director Sharon Wachtel said the Brighton Community Food Hub was a powerful example of how a community could identify and tackle a significant issue.
“The Food Hub has grown from Red Cross focus groups with Aboriginal community members at the start of last year, to discuss their priorities and needs during the pandemic,” Ms Wachtel said.
“It was clear that food insecurity was an urgent issue for Aboriginal and broader community members, fueled by housing prices, changes in employment conditions, and cost of living pressures including rising food costs.”
She said Red Cross worked with the community to secure a Communities for Children grant to seed a trial which has now distributed almost 180 family food packs over three sessions.
The food hub is an inclusive project that extends to all community members, not just the area’s Aboriginal population.
The Brighton Lions Club will work with the community to continue the Food Hub, with support from Brighton Council, Communities for Children, and Food Bank.
Brighton Community Food Hub president Christine Gimblett said the project was powerful and uplifting. “It has resulted from lots of hard work and community input, and it is going to help so many, many people,” she said. “It demonstrates the ability community can have if we stick together, and it shows other communities that they can do this if they want to.”
Volunteer Naomi Arnold said the food hub was extremely important for the community. “It helps out people as the cost of things at the supermarket is unbelievable and still rising. I’m ecstatic that it’s becoming a regular fixture. If it wasn’t for Red Cross, we wouldn’t have got it off the ground,” she said.
The Food Hub will be a fortnightly fixture at the Brighton Civic Centre in Greenpoint Rd from August.
Ms Wachtel said the project offered a practical model for similar place-based initiatives in Tasmania and further afield.
“The beauty of this project is that the community has done the heavy lifting, making the major decisions and running the Food Hub sessions. The community didn’t want or need a ‘hand-out’, and Red Cross was able to walk alongside community members and help with a ‘hand-up’,” she said.
“The community owns and leads the project, and Red Cross has assisted by listening, enabling and building capacity. And now the community will take the initiative forward with ongoing support from the Lions Club, with Red Cross involvement continuing for three to six months as the Food Hub becomes established.
“This year’s NAIDCOC Week theme is Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up, and that is exactly what the Bridgewater community is doing with this fabulous initiative,” Ms Wachtel said.