Over the past month, community housing organisation HousingFirst has delivered more than 500 boxes of fresh produce and grocery items to vulnerable tenants. The program is now reaching just over a quarter of all HousingFirst residents each fortnight.
HousingFirst began the delivery service, which sees tenants receive up to $50 worth of produce for $5, after it was forced to close its fortnightly Pocket Market due to the coronavirus pandemic.
HousingFirst’s Community Development Coordinator, Roy Hammond-Thomas, says the organisation wanted to ensure its low-income tenants were still able to source high quality, low-cost, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Now, in a partnership with Foodbank Victoria, HousingFirst is also offering tenants grocery boxes, which will be delivered to their door, free of charge. Tenants are encouraged to make a $5 donation for each box they receive.
In addition to tenants requesting the service, HousingFirst has a referral program through its Tenancy team, which ensures those tenants identified as being particularly vulnerable receive a complimentary box.
‘It’s great being able to turn up on people’s doorsteps with a box of groceries and a little note saying, “We hope you are well and let us know if you need anything,” Roy says.
‘One of the most heart-warming things has been tenants who have started gifting boxes to other tenants; ringing up and ordering a box for themselves and asking to pay for a friend.’
‘It’s a real community effort, it’s coming together with all these different layers to it.
‘We are hoping to grow the service in the future to help more people, we have had 10 tonnes of food delivered over the past couple of weeks.’