New free food program ramps up in Albany CBD as weather cools

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Volunteers Sally-Ann Blakers and Helen Ralph with Tracy Sleeman and Ray Hunt.
Camera IconVolunteers Sally-Ann Blakers and Helen Ralph with Tracy Sleeman and Ray Hunt. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

A new free food relief program will support people in the Albany CBD needing a warm meal in winter.

Run by the Albany and Regional Volunteer Service, the program will run alongside its Breakfast in the Park program, which gives about 50 people a free breakfast each week.

The new program will serve up food from 3pm-4.30pm every Wednesday at St John’s Anglican Church on York Street.

Co-ordinator Tracey Sleeman said she hoped the later time and central location would help more people who needed a homemade meal.

“With Breakfast in the Park, we have found that in the winter, the outdoor locations are quite exposed,” she said.

“We know a lot of people come into the CBD for services they need, and the church location is in shelter.

“This means they can sit down and have their meal, and gives them an opportunity to sit and talk. A lot of people in these positions are isolated and lonely, and getting out and coming to a welcoming environment really helps.”

Ms Sleeman said the AVRS food relief program would run as a trial to gauge demand.

“Anyone who needs some food relief is welcome,” she said.

“There are a lot of kids who hang around at the library or at Coles in the afternoon, and a lot of high school kids go without, so we are hoping to attract them.

“If people can come and not see a stigma attached to it, that would be nice.” The first session ran on Wednesday, offering soups, toasted and fresh sandwiches, fruit, hot drinks and more.

“When these people come to any place that gives them food, it shows the community do care and see they need a helping hand,” Ms Sleeman said.

“They feel a relief that they have got some food, eating well and eating healthy.”

Ms Sleeman would also like youth to get involved and learn some new cooking and serving skills as volunteers.

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