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Carevan backed by health service

Northeast Health Wangaratta’s excess meals to be donated to support local community.

Two older ladies holding up a selection of food and stand outside NHW main entrance.
HELPING HAND: Wangaratta Carevan secretary Trudy Cornish (left) alongside Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) acting support services operational manager Debra Corcoran, after the health service committed to donating its unused food items to the local food drive.

A new arrangement between Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) and the Wangaratta Carevan will see the local hospital support the food drive initiative with pre-cooked meals for the foreseeable future.

The Carevan, which serves free meals from Apex Park on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for those experiencing food insecurity, will have their stocks bolstered on a planned weekly basis by the hospital, which will donate meals they over-cater for within the hospital.

NHW Executive Director People and Corporate Operations, Kim Bennetts, said the agreement would have the added benefit of reducing the health service’s waste output.

“Otherwise that (food) would have been disposed of or not used, so we’re really keen to connect with the community and provide those in need with food requirements as we can,” she said.

“I think in our support services area and particularly our food services area, we’re looking at ways of minimising, where possible, our impact on landfill and looking at ways we can support community as well.

“Obviously we do food orders and sometimes that’s all used, which is fantastic, but sometimes we have food that isn’t used and we wanted to make sure it goes to a place of need, so we reached out to the Carevan via The Centre and made a positive connection.”

Wangaratta Carevan secretary Trudy Cornish said the community was becoming increasingly aware of the issue of food insecurity locally and were looking at ways to support others.

“(NHW) try to give out as much as they can, but they rang us and said they still had extra food like sandwiches, salad bowls, fruit bowls -they’ve reached out to us and we’ve got on board and we’ll get donations from them, so more people are aware of if they can’t use it, how can somebody else use it, and that’s brilliant;’ she said.

“There is more awareness to pass on what is a little too much for you, to pass on to someone else.

“People are reaching out, whether it’s individuals or businesses, they’re reaching out to ask how can we share with you?”

Ms Bennetts said expanding the health service’s support beyond the hospital’s four walls was an important consideration.
“When we talk about community and what that means, this is just one way that we can support the community that’s outside of the hospital environment,” she said.

“I’m sure there are a wide range of people who are accessing that support from the Carevan, and we’re glad to be a part of that program.”

Article by Ryan Malcolm and photo by Kurt Hickling from the Wangaratta Chronicle