With Melbourne in the thick of its second lockdown, food charity FareShare has reported a further increase in unemployed hospitality workers seeking food relief.
As tighter restrictions continue, the people who typically bolster Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene, such as international students and visa workers, are the ones who have lost work and are unable to access financial assistance.
FareShare estimates it has provided more than 200,000 cooked meals for international students and visa workers in Melbourne during the pandemic, with a further spike in demand since the second lockdown.
Thousands of FareShare meals are feeding international students from Monash, Melbourne and CQ Universities each week, while community groups have also sprung up to support struggling students.
Angela Valansi, of the newly formed Kindness Community Group, has been handing out FareShare meals from a Fitzroy Church. She said it was “heartbreaking” to see students lose their jobs for a second time. “We have so many people already in our list and I’m so worried for the weeks ahead”, said Angela.
To help ease this demand, delivery app, DoorDash, has partnered with FareShare to bring even more meals to the thousands of people falling on hard times.
Until August 20, DoorDash will provide a free meal to someone in need for every food order made via the app or online (no minimum spend).
FareShare has nearly doubled the production of meals since the start of the outbreak cooking around 9,000 free meals a day from its Abbotsford kitchen. To meet an upswell in demand from communities impacted, FareShare has also employed more than 100 struggling chefs, many of them visa holders.
FareShare CEO, Marcus Godinho, said, “So many Melburnians are doing it tough right now and our city’s normally lively hospitality industry is in crisis with thousands of workers laid off. Partnering with DoorDash allows us to reach even more vulnerable people, including international students and visa workers, who are relying on FareShare’s free, nutritious meals to get by and stay healthy.
“For every DoorDash order made in Melbourne, we can cook and share a nutritious meal with someone struggling to put food on the table. With people accessing food delivery more while they’re staying home, this is a simple way for locals to show their support.”
Hotel chef Karl Hoffrichter, one of FareShare’s newest team members, takes a FareShare meal pack home to support two of his fellow hospitality workers – one an international student and the other a visa holder who have lost work and have no access to government funding.
“All their money goes on rent and bills,” he said. “I’m helping them get through and it makes a real difference”.
Hoffrichter said the whole hospitality industry has suffered; “It doesn’t just affect the kitchen – it’s the bartenders and waiting staff as well.