Rotary Members support the St. Mary's Parish Pantry Program through the donation of their normal Rotary lunch payment.
The St Mary’s Parish Pantry provides food staples and grocery items to people, living in Geelong, who are either holders of a Healthcare card or a referral from a refugee or aid agency. The Pantry is open three afternoons per week and members of one household are able to attend the Pantry every two weeks. For the period 1 March 2020 to 30 September
2020, 1,148 clients have visited the pantry with 2,694 bags of food distributed. Each client is entitled to receive bread, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables and their choice of ten (10) other items from the Pantry shelves. Some clients have full cooking facilities, whereas others may be living in emergency accommodation with only a microwave. The Pantry has to ensure there is food available, to be cooked in either scenario.
Donations are received from a number of places including The Egg Board, which supplies 60doz eggs per week, Brumbys Bakery Geelong West, which provides all excess bread for collection by volunteers on a Thursday night, and the Italian Social Club, which delivers ready-to-heat homemade meals each Friday. On a weekly basis, volunteers collect fresh fruit and vegetables from Foodbank Victoria and Feed Me Bellarine and grocery staples, including frozen food and toiletries, from Foodbank Geelong. Donated funds are used to purchase additional food items. For instance, Foodbank Geelong may have pasta available but not pasta sauce, baked beans and spaghetti but not tinned soup, large boxes of breakfast cereal but not small boxes. Savvy volunteers often find “treats” on sale including tinned fish
and laundry powder.
Before the pandemic, the St Mary’s Parish Bulletin asked for donations of specific items, each week. Since there has been no church services, those donations have stopped completely. Therefore, the funds provided by Rotary has enabled Gary McIlvena, the Pantry Co-Ordinator, to fill the void by purchasing items for the Pantry shelves.
I pass on the thanks of Gary, and his team of volunteers, for the financial support the Rotary Club of Geelong has provided to the Pantry and, of course, its clients.

Helen St John