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‘Food for Families’ strugglesto keep up with demand as emergency relief funding dries up

Centre Manager Jeanette Welsh and husband Paul struggle to make ends meet at the Neighbourhood Centre. Photo TWH

The Lightning Ridge Neighbourhood Centre’s low-cost food alternative, Food for Families, needs help to keep up with demand as emergency relief funding in the town has ceased.

According to Centre Manager, Jeanette Welsh, community members are coming to the centre unable to pay for food as the emergency relief funding through St Vinnies has ceased.

“People are struggling to pay bills plus buy food, and Food for Families has been handing out small packages of free food to help people make it through until payday,” Mrs Welsh said.

The Neighbourhood Centre is in a similar predicament, battling to pay overheads with the small amount of funding the centre receives for internet and computer services, threatening closure to the centre.

Aside from providing food and household items, the Lightning Ridge Neighbourhood Centre offers computer, printing and photocopying access, sewing machines, a library, Nils loans, email assistance, and a space for isolated community members to socialise over a cuppa.

Food for Families supplies bread each week to the Lightning Ridge Central School for the ‘Brekky Club,’ which ensures every school-aged child has access to breakfast.

Extended families in the town rely on bread, veggies, and low-cost food and household essentials.

A recent customer feedback/survey form was overwhelmingly supported by locals and those living in surrounding towns, such as Hebel and the Grawin Opal Fields.

The consensus is that losing the Neighbourhood Centre Food for Families service would be disastrous, given the rising cost of food, fuel, rent, and the general cost of living.

An email has been sent to Acting General Manager of Walgett Shire Council, Hugh Percy, asking for financial assistance to keep the doors open.

The Neighbourhood Centre’s application for aid will appear on the agenda for the next Council meeting for discussion on Tuesday, May 23rd.


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