“We thrive on community, we love helping our community and we love being with our community.”
For Natalie Quince, Georgie’s Hub Manager and her team at Georgie’s Pantry, it has been really hard to adjust to the social distancing and self-isolation obligations. “We are of course committed to playing our part in eradicating COVID-19, so we have taken on the challenge of finding creative ways to continue to serve our community while meeting our public health obligations,” said Natalie.
Georgie’s Pantry, a partnership between the Anglican parish of Parkes and Anglicare, sells discounted groceries, meat, fruit and vegetables to community members in need, and helps around 60 drought-stricken farming families per week. Their service was recognised as essential, but they had to change the way customers shop at the Pantry.
“We have moved from a mini-market set up to providing customers with pre-packed boxes of groceries,” said Natalie. “Additionally, many of our volunteers are over 70 so we had to change the way our service operates to protect them and meet the self-isolation guidelines. We have had amazing support from community volunteers who have stepped in to fill these volunteer roles.”
“The Parkes Dragon Boat Club has shown themselves willing to take on any task. Their members have shifted their exercise regime from the water to the warehouse and have spent hours unloading food pallets and packing and distributing food boxes. They even took on the job of cutting up crate loads of potatoes to make 135 trays of potato bake last week.”
These were generously cooked by Smeaton’s Bakery and distributed to people all over the region. Natalie said they’ve also had wonderful help from other community volunteers who responded to calls put out by the Parkes Shire Council.
Interestingly, the number of customers at the Pantry have remained relatively steady so far, despite the increased financial pressure on many families. At the same time there has been an increase in the amount of food donated to the Pantry.
“In the last month we received over 20 pallets of food where we would normally only unpack about five pallets per month,” said Natalie. The bigger volume in donations means an increase in capacity to offer assistance if it becomes necessary.
Georgie’s Pantry provides help right across the Parkes Shire including Bogan Gate, Peak Hill, Tullamore and Trundle. “We also have customers who travel to us from other regional areas around Yeoval, Cumnock and Forbes. We also work with other food relief agencies right across the Central West to collect and distribute ex- cess food to communities in need.”
Any person in need is welcome to visit the Pantry at 45 Currajong Street on Thursdays between 10am and 1pm, call 0409 716 944 or get in touch on its Facebook page called Georgie’s Hub – Anglican Parish of Parkes partnering with Anglicare.
If you would like to help out, the Pantry accepts donations of any excess fruit and vegetables, eggs and other local produce.
The Coronavirus has certainly changed our world in unprecedented ways, but it has also brought on a kindness pandemic with community members walking the extra mile to help others, as experienced by Georgie’s Pantry, enabling them to follow the words of Jesus to his disciples: “You give them something to eat.”
“We are so immensely grateful that the community comes together at a time like this to ensure that services like Georgie’s Pantry can continue to operate,” said Natalie.
By Maggi Barnard