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Volunteers unite to offer food relief in Mt Gambier

Mt Gambier Thrift Shop manager Shauna Wood (right) with one of her valuable volunteers.

Salvo volunteers in Mt Gambier, South Australia, are uplifting the spirits of those in need through a chat, a warm meal and ongoing care, with an increase in the number of people of all ages coming to The Salvation Army for support.

Salvos Thrift Shop manager Shauna Wood says she has seen a stark increase in people reaching out to the Salvos for assistance this year, sometimes up to 45 people a week, especially for food relief.

Shauna says she relies heavily on her volunteers, who have banded together to cook a sausage sizzle for the community every Friday at the Thrift Shop in town, with food bags also given out.

“Our volunteers are enjoying helping people because they love to give back to the community,” she says.

“But we are starting to get a lot of people coming to us for help. There are people from all different ages, and we are seeing families, single people, couples and just people who are passing through Mount Gambier looking for a place to stay.

“There are also lots of people with school-age children just trying to make ends meet. People who come along are grateful for the food, and they do stay and have a chat.”

Sunset Community Kitchen

Another food relief service in town is the Sunset Community Kitchen, where several Salvo volunteers also assist each Monday and Wednesday night at the Frew Park facility in town.

Sunset Kitchen president Maree Thompson said the team recently served 65 meals on a Monday night.

“We are getting a lot more young people who seem to be passing through and obviously are being sent by support agencies to us,” Maree said.

“This means they are taking their meal and sitting outside at the tables because they obviously don’t have accommodation. It is also concerning for anyone who is in any sort of a position like this because it isn’t a good situation.”

President Maree Thompson (centre) and her Wednesday night crew at the Sunset Community Kitchen in Mt Gambier.

Maree said the reasoning behind the increase includes the current cost of living and more people on the streets.

“We are now trying to get our teams to make a minimum of 70 meals at a time, so we are prepared, but that also travels down the line because we get donations and food from FoodBank as well who are also struggling,” she said.

Mount Gambier’s Sunset Kitchen is open Monday and Wednesday from 6pm until 6.30pm at its Frew Park facility.

Salvation Army Thrift Shop hosts its sausage sizzle on a Friday between 5.30pm and 6.15pm at its Gray Street store.

This is an edited version of a story that appeared in The Border Watch (Author: Charlotte Varcoe)


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