Getting food to where it’s needed is never easy, but when those experiencing food insecurity live hundreds of kilometres from the nearest major supermarket, “tyranny of distance” isn’t just a figure of speech.
When Peter from Beacon received a food hamper from his local Community Resource Centre (CRC) his gratitude nearly brought the staff to tears.
“I’m a pensioner, so anything you get helps”, said Peter, who often collects cans along the roadside for extra cash. “The cost of living is incredible so I’m grateful for anything that helps.”
A hamper delivery to the tiny Central Wheatbelt town of Beacon is the happy result of Foodbank WA’s efforts to extend its reach. Thanks to funding from Arc Infrastructure, Foodbank WA has been sending hampers to Wyalkatchem and Northam every month.
Wyalkatchem CRC acts as a delivery hub coordinating distribution to tiny communities in the surrounding area, including Koorda, Cunderdin, Kalannie and Peter’s hometown of Beacon 125 kilometers away.
“The shop here is quite expensive. I get the bare minimum there. I don’t buy meat here”
Merredin, the nearest town with a sizeable supermarket is even further.
“Merredin – that’s pretty bloody expensive too! When I go to Perth to see the doctors I grab as much shopping as I can while I’m down there.”
The struggles of those on fixed incomes are something we witness every day at Foodbank WA. Whilst Covid payments offered a short reprieve, we now are serving almost 40% more customers than we did at the start of the pandemic.
“It amazes me with the pension, the minimum wage is what $700 or something a week? And the pension’s what, $960 or something a fortnight? It’s just the cost of living that’s the killer.”
It amazes me with the pension, the minimum wage is what $700 or something a week? And the pension’s what, $960 or something a fortnight? It’s just the cost of living that’s the killer.
“I get a concession on my rates, but it’s still nearly a thousand dollars! You get through, but you’ve gotta watch your money. It’s pretty tight.”
Peter worked a number of different jobs in his younger days including farm and mining work. He’s never been one to sit still and has turned his love of the outdoors into a way to pick up a little extra cash.
“I collect cans, bottles and containers. That helps a bit. That’s just what you’ve gotta do. It’s just tough and anything you can get helps.”
“It’s a bit of an outing for me too, a chance to get out. I go for a walk in the morning and pick up cans and containers out of the bins, I go to the tip, there’s usually cans dumped there. I go for a walk down the road and if I see people have thrown cans out I pick them up.”
WA’s housing crisis has spread through regional areas leaving many pensioners with little money left for food after they pay rent. Peter says he’s lucky, because he has his own place to live.
“It’s an old house but I haven’t got any money to do any work on it. I’m still reasonably active so I can do a bit, most of the time it’s just having the money to do it. At least I own the place.”
With a few extra meals in the pantry, Peter has a little less worry and a little more time for the things he loves.
“You’ve got to be careful. You can’t go on bloody holidays or things like that. Luckily I like going out bush so that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I just go out bush and camp, just enjoy the peace and quiet of the bush.”
Foodbank WA provides over 6.7 million meals a year to people in need but plenty more are going without. You can help fight hunger, by donating to soundofhunger.com.au.
If you or someone you know is struggling to afford food, please seek assistance by calling The Emergency Relief & Food Assistance Hotline 1800 979 777, Monday to Friday 9.00am -5.00pm.