Surging demand has prompted expansion plans at the Geelong Food Relief Centre.
About 28,000 people sought help last financial year but the centre expects up to 32,000 people, including 15,000 families, will have accessed the service by the middle of the year.
The centre had been “absolutely flat out” since reopening after its Christmas break, said operations manager Collin Peebles.
“In 25 years this is the first time we’ve needed to expand. It’s getting extremely busy.”
Calls for help were coming from all quarters, including the “asset-rich and cash-poor”, Mr Peebles said.
“I think it’s a sign of the times.
“Interest rates are low and the cost of living is high, which puts financial pressure on people.
“Bills need to be paid and the pantry suffers.”
Mr Peebles said the centre planned to expand refrigeration at its central Geelong facility and double its cool room capacity before the Easter rush.
The centre also needed donations to buy its own refrigerated vehicle, he said.
Mr Peebles predicted that there would be a 20 per cent increase in demand for food vouchers.
“Perishable items can be difficult to source from local farmers and people’s gardens.
“It adds costs to us having to use some of our kitty from financial donations so that we’re able to provide a range of products to those in need.”
Mr Peebles said the centre was accepting donations at geelongfoodrelief.org or facebook.com/GeelongFoodRelief.
Originally published at Geelong Independent.