Hampers filling the shortfall for families during lockdown

By Christina Gretton, 19 August 2021
Donated hampers of nutritious food make all the difference to some families in CatholicCare's programs. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


For young families who are surviving on government assistance, and particularly during COVID, it’s the arrival of a large bill that can mean a choice between buying the essentials like nappies, or not.

The pregnant single parents and young families in the Houses to Homes program at CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, have some respite though.

Once a week, OZ Harvest delivers food that the Houses to Homes team package and make a contactless delivery to those families in their program who desperately need it.

“Food is a significant issue for some families,” says the Manager from Houses to Homes. “Sometimes a big bill will come in, and if we can help out with groceries and maybe an ‘Essentials card’ it will allow a family to buy nappies and toiletries.

“It can help a family through a tough week.”

The women in the Houses to Homes program sometimes already have other children. The young mothers are mostly aged between 16 and 25 years old, and many are surviving on Centrelink payments. The Houses to Homes team support them through their pregnancies and after the birth of the baby. At a time when COVID is placing stress and uncertainty around maternity hospitals and arrangements for deliveries, this support is needed more than ever.

Reducing the risk for families without cars

Aboriginal Catholic Services (ACS) at Emerton has regularly distributed hampers made from OZ Harvest donations to local families doing it tough.

Linda McDonald who runs the HIPPY Program for young families at ACS usually helps out once a week packing hampers from OZ Harvest donations. At the moment though, the work has tripled.

She explains that there are many families with young children in the area who would normally catch public transport to get their groceries each week. The pandemic has made this difficult and also very frightening for them. Several of them have also lost income making it more difficult than ever to buy groceries. Oz Harvest has recognized the need and now delivers to ACS three times a week.

Thanks to the hampers, most local families can safely walk to the centre to collect their supplies, avoiding the need to use public transport to shop.

Linda says it’s also a chance to check in with them and see how they are coping with lockdown.

Linda admits that sometimes they have to stretch the donations quite far, but they are always gratefully received.

“We do the best with what we’ve got”, she says.

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