Welfare organisations struggling to keep up with overwhelming numbers of refugees in crisis
The most pressing need within the asylum seeker community is food insecurity. The access to fresh produce and food that is culturally relevant.
i.feed.refugees, the Community Grocer, and Whittlesea Community Connections are partnering to provide an innovative solution to this urgent crisis.
Food banks, soup kitchens, past use buy produce providers are not keeping up with the demand, they’re stretched and have tried various mobile solutions to feed refugees.
i.feed.refugees have acted quickly to build connections with caseworkers in Whittlesea and the community Grocer to pilot a program of fresh food vouchers to refugees in crisis. Fresh food vouchers are funded through the sale of cheeky tees – tees feed refugees and the plan is to have 20 vouchers available by January 2019.
Who is The Community Grocer?
The Community Grocer established itself as a not-for-profit social enterprise in 2014 to address the challenges many Australians face when it comes to putting healthy fresh food on the table. The first market opened in Carlton in 2015. There are now 5 markets throughout Victoria in Fitzroy, Flemington, Pakenham, and Fawkner.
By running weekly fresh produce markets in Victorian communities, their vision is for all people to have access to quality, affordable, healthy fruit and vegetables. The markets also create an opportunity for meaningful social engagement, cultivating a sense of community through cultural diversity & food.
" The Community Grocer is all about food for healthy connected communities. We want a food system that is fair, healthy, equitable and sustainable, and TCG moves beyond traditional welfare models of food access and utilizes market settings to address seemingly intractable problems".
Russell Shields, Founder
With produce 50% cheaper than surrounding outlets, customers can increase their daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, cook culturally familiar meals, and feel connected to their community. This has far-reaching social and health implication - affecting both physical and emotional well-being.
read more here: The Community Grocer
Who are Whittlesea Community Connections?
“Whittlesea is the first local council in Australia to get behind expanding this neighborhood-led solution to the global refugee crisis,” said Shankar Kasynathan, Refugee Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.
Community sponsorship is a model where ordinary members of the community sponsor visas for refugees from around the world, who wish to begin the process of rebuilding their lives in Australia.
The motion, led by Kris Pavlidis, Mayor of Whittlesea, calls on the Federal Government to make the intake of refugees under community sponsorship separate from the existing humanitarian intake and to lower the program’s prohibitive visa fees.
“Whittlesea is one of almost 150 local councils across the country that have already declared themselves Refugee Welcome Zones, saying they are ready to receive their new neighbours. Now that the Whittlesea has led the way, we hope other local councils around the country will take their commitment one step further by adding their voices to the call for a greater community sponsorship program,” said Shankar Kasynathan.
The community sponsorship model has worked successfully for almost 40 years in Canada, which has welcomed over 280,000 refugees through the program, in addition to its humanitarian intake.
In contrast, Australia’s community sponsorship program is capped at only 1,000 places this year, and each time one of these is allocated, a place is lost out of the 13,500 in the humanitarian program.
“We can see from Canada’s example that the kindness of neighbours can help people who have lost everything to start again. We hope ordinary people across Australia will see the success of this and say, ‘Let’s do our bit and help bring these vulnerable people to safety’,” said Shankar Kasynathan.
Why is our model unique?
Partnering with local organisations who are able to provide fresh food delivery, as well as those with direct access to genuine refugees, i.feed.refugees will serve as the crucial channel through which refugees are able to obtain the support they so desperately require.
No one chooses to be a refugee, but everyone has the choice to help.
How can you help?
It's pretty basic - buy an i.feed.refugee organic cotton tee and you will be giving someone access to fresh food of their choice. That is pretty meaningful if you think it through. This is someone who has had to flee their country, friends, careers, and now struggle to support their most basic needs. An i.feed.refugee's voucher is an opportunity to rebuild confidence and self-esteem. It is not a handout of leftovers. It requires the individual to navigate public transport to attend the market, it allows them total independence over what they buy, and it provides invaluable connection and contact outside of their community.
By buying an i.feed.refugee tee shirt or reusable jute shopping bag you will be highlighting the insanity of the government cuts, coupled with that you will also be giving a week’s fresh food to a refugee in crisis.
We would love your support via social media to spread our advocacy. Take a stand and have your say. Each order contains a blank poster, fill it in with your personal statement and take a picture of yourself. Share it to insta or facebook with the #ifeedrefugees.
Thank you x
You may have heard that refugees get more support than other Australians.
This is not true. Read Australian Government assistance to refugees: fact v fiction on the Parliament of Australia website.