Last Anglican community meal in February

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The Anglican Church’s Community Meals process will cease to exist in February next year after organizers were unable to meet insurance costs and program delivery expectations.

Volunteer Pat Harrison was there on opening night, along with the woman behind the program Phyllis Stokes and fellow longtime volunteer Lorraine Doherty.

They all remembered the beginning of the evening meal offering in November 2005.

‘I remember we had four inches of rain that night and five people came in through the door,’ Ms Harrison said.

“The following week there were around 20 and we have regularly reached 100 people at our Christmas events over the years.”

Liability insurance costs, along with an aging membership base and the significant impact of COVID-19 have forced the church to abandon the community meal.

“We stopped in March 2020 because of the pandemic. We had planned to start again in July 2021, but the very week we announced it, the country went back into lockdown,” she said.

There hasn’t been a community meal since the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped people from asking organizers about a return date.

Walking down Allan Street was often a difficult task for Pat Harrison, who regularly had to explain the difficult nature of reintroducing the meal.

The community meal welcomes, on average, around 60 people, during school term, on a weekly basis – a steady flow of attendees into the church hall at 6 p.m. on Mondays.

“It’s a community gathering that also serves those in need,” Ms Harrison said.

“Some people come because they are alone, others because they are in difficult circumstances.”

She and a handful of others have been involved with the program throughout its history, but tougher cooking requirements and insurance costs have forced them to take vacations.

“When we wanted to leave, it was made clear that there were heightened expectations, which were out of reach for our group,” she said.

“We tried to find a way to continue, but eventually had to end the program.”

Despite the ruling, Kyabram will in no way be left without support in the community’s food supply.

“The Salvation Army will resume serving meals. KCLC offers a Foodshare and the community church also does a Foodbarn,” Ms Harrison said.

“It’s a very sad situation for us to have to cancel this, but there are other options for people.”

Ms Harrison said several of the ‘regulars’ at the community meals were now residents of Warramunda and Sheridan, no longer able to attend.

“There were a large number of older people attending and helping out at the service,” she said.

“So many other community organizations have helped us in so many ways.”

Kyabram Bakery supplied the bread each week, then there were Rotary and Lions Clubs, the Garden Club, M&S Accounting, CWA, MEEOFF, Bendigo Bank, Kyabram Club, Campaspe Shire, Greater Shepparton Foundation, Kyabram Butchers and many more. others who contributed generously.

Goulburn Valley Grammar Year 9 pupils were among the volunteers involved in the meal service, alongside pupils from St Augustine’s College.

St Vincent’s used to collect what was not used by the St Andrew’s group and distribute it to those who needed it.

The last community meal will be February 6 next year at 6pm in St Andrew’s Hall.

“It takes a bit of organization and people have so much to do, so we left that until after Christmas,” Ms Harrison said.

“It will give us the opportunity to say goodbye and thank people.”

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