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Ferntree Gully Corps unveils recipe for community resilience

Volunteers (from left) Mareta Williams, Fran Mandergeddes and Dameon Ford with Ferntree Gully Corps Officer Major Rosie Massey inside the corps’ new food pantry.


Despite a recent setback, Ferntree Gully Corps in Victoria is still giving back to the community after launching an emergency relief food pantry.

The pantry stocks canned goods, drinks, snacks, and non-perishable items like milk and yoghurt in an on-site fridge, with the service accessible to those in need.

Corps Officer Major Rosie Massey said an after-hours pantry was set up outside the church building in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs in May 2023, but demand soared, so a permanent pantry has now been set up.


“In the past, we were able to provide emergency relief to members of our community here on a Wednesday through what was known as our mini market,” Rosemary said.


“The mini market was a wonderful concept that helped people to get some food, much like food hackers on a weekly basis. However, there wasn’t really a great variety, and we were seeing the same people every single week and felt that we really needed to [meet their needs] as much as we could.


“[The external food pantry is] accessible 24/7, and we have noticed since May that it’s getting continually used and even more so since these last two months, so much so that we’re now having to stock it twice a day, and we’re having four to six people come each day to access that pantry.”


The food pantry remains stocked through funds raised from the Red Shield Appeal and donated items from church members, FoodBank and the Rotary Club of Ferntree Gully.


The permanent pantry opened on Wednesday 7 February, and visitors can access free food, perishable items, cleaning products and personal items.


“Given the way that things are in this day and age, we all know the cost of living is not going down anytime soon,” Rosie said.


“We’re hoping to be able to provide the best support that we can to make it fair for everyone. We’ve seen people that are not just on Centrelink; they’ve got a mortgage and two jobs, and they’re just not making ends meet.”


Rosie said those who visit are given an interview to determine their needs.


“We also have the capacity to hand out vouchers,” she said. “We can decide whether they need to come weekly or whether they’re actually able to come fortnightly or hopefully monthly, depending on their circumstances.” 

The church’s trailer, used to transport food donations, was recently stolen from its shed.

It comes as the corps battles extra costs of its own, with its shed broken into only days before the launch of the pantry and thieves stealing the church’s valuable trailer, used to pick up donations from FoodBank. Also stolen were gardening tools and a TV stored in the shed owned by a community member.


Rosie said it was “quite a shock” to receive a call from a local church member alerting her they had been robbed.


“I came down, and our trailer, which is vital for our work, was gone,” she said. [It was] very disheartening because we’re here to try and support the community.”


Unsure of when the trailer will be replaced, the sliding doors to the garage were also damaged, creating an extra cost.


Despite the adversity, Rosie said the corps will continue servicing its community “no questions asked”.


*Story courtesy of the Star Mail, Ferntree Gully.


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