Feeding the most vulnerable during the covid-19 crisis
An innovative proposal that supports the redeployment of the hospitality workforce to ensure the continuity of food relief has been put to government by the Give Where You Live Foundation.
The rapid progression of the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia has, amongst other issues, seen three key social challenges to emerge.
- Vulnerable people in society are not able to access a consistent supply of food
- There is a diminishing number of volunteers and reduced supply of donated food in the food relief sector
- There is a decrease in opportunities for social connections, leading to a decline in the mental health of community members.
The Give Where You Live Foundation together with the Donkey Wheel Foundation have created a proposal that will address this, enabling the redeployment of the hospitality workforce and ensuring the continuity of food relief.
As social isolation becomes more prevalent, restaurants and cafés are experiencing a significant reduction in business, to the point of either temporary or permanent closure.
Without intervention, staff that are skilled in preparing, cooking and delivering food will become unemployed, while restaurant dining areas, storage rooms and kitchens will sit idle.
Charities and not-for-profit organisations who rely on excess food and donations from restaurants, cafés and supermarkets to support vulnerable people in our community will no longer be able to support those who need it most.
The trickledown effect is frightening.
Give Where You Live together with the Donkey Wheel Foundation are proposing that a joint fund is established between Federal, State and Local Governments, providing access to food and meals for people in need.
Those in need would use a smart card to access meals or food parcels, which would be prepared at approved hospitality venues. Delivery, which would be crucial for community members with a disability, who are self-isolating or aged, would be available via an existing service provider. This uses the existing skills, capacity and equipment within the hospitality sector.
The strength of this approach is that it deals with multiple key challenges simultaneously, using a food voucher system that leverages existing business, relief and community assets.
The proposal will save jobs (and allow those workers to access food and stay off welfare), local restaurants and cafés will stay open and the most vulnerable in our community will have their food needs reliably provided.
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