Food relief: A lifeline for Sergio*

As the cost of living financial pressures mount, we’re seeing more and more people who could once make ends meet seeking out our help, while people who were already suffering are being pushed even further into poverty, people like Sergio, who comes to Mission House seeking food relief.

Since losing his casual job in the hospitality industry at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sergio (48)  has been doing it tough. He struggles with a range of physical and mental health issues and hasn’t been well enough to rejoin the workforce.

As the cost of living has continued to rise, Sergio has been pushed further and further into the margins. He’s extremely cautious with his money, but without monthly food parcels from AV’s Emergency Relief Centre at Mission House, he wouldn’t be able to get by. “It’s only because of this that I’ve never gone short,” says Sergio.

As Sam Horsburgh Emergency Relief Coordinator for Mission House says, “This is the hardest time we’ve ever seen. We tell people: ’Don’t just come when the cupboards bare. Come when you’re due to come, because if you get your food here, that’s $50 or more you can put in your back pocket for a rainy day.”

Sergio uses the money he saves on food to pay for prescriptions and utility bills. “The food I get here, my gosh, it makes a difference,” he says. ”And everyone is really good here too, they don’t make you feel bad about coming. You can choose the things that you like, so I stock up on healthy foods.”

As Sam says, ”It can be so embarrassing and so hard to ask for help. Just walking through the door can be a huge challenge for people. We can make sure they have a laugh and it feels a little bit relaxed, and takes away some of that shame.”

The harsh reality is that people who are seeking our Emergency Relief Centres have little or no financial resilience to survive – the majority have less than $100 in the bank. With the support of our generous donors our Emergency Relief Centres can provide food parcels with essential items including canned goods, long-life milk, cereal and pasta so people like Sergio don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy

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