New home for OzHarvest is the perfect fit

HANDOVER: Reverend Michael Palmer with Peter Buggy and volunteers, as OzHarvest moves into its new home.
HANDOVER: Reverend Michael Palmer with Peter Buggy and volunteers, as OzHarvest moves into its new home.

OzHarvest has a new home on the Sapphire Coast with the relocation of the food collection and distribution service into Anglicare offices in St James House, which are part of St Clements Church, Merimbula.

The service collects good food from retailers which is then distributed to welfare organisations who pass it on to needy recipients. The food is all edible but approaching its use by date or is excess due to unforeseen circumstances.

Christine Welsh and Peter Buggy introduced the service into the area, with great success, running it from their own garage.

Now Reverend Michael Palmer will take over the organisation with the ongoing assistance of volunteers.

“We’re following the exact same model and will be collecting from Woolworths at Tura Beach and Merimbula as before,” Mr Palmer said.

“St James House will be the point where it all takes place. Anglicare gladly entered into this arrangement. This is a great opportunity to serve the wider community and we’re all about service,” he said.

“OzHarvest as is a wonderful vehicle to reduce waste, care for the environment, alleviate hunger and build family and community cohesion.” 

In fact the Anglicare involvement has a number of synergies. Mr Palmer is the pastor of St Georges Uniting Church, Eden where regular community lunches are held. St Georges is also exploring setting up a community pantry.

“It’s just a very natural thing for me to do,” Mr Palmer added.

Mr Buggy said that they had always reached out to those in need and tried to find the gaps and that included food distribution to the Garden of Eden project at St Georges.

But running such a service in a rural area is very different from the big cities where there are many more food retailers.

“One of the problems is the limited number of places to collect food from. It can be a lottery; sometimes we’re overwhelmed and sometimes we’re underwhelmed,” Mr Buggy said.

“We tried to get as close to a guaranteed supply as possible and have tried to do things that are self-sustaining,” he added.

Ms Welsh established OzHarvest on the Sapphire Coast in 2014, although has shifted her time to the community pantry which opened its doors in Bega in September 2017. There are now 400 members and around 60 shoppers per week.

Mr Palmer is employed in three part-time roles within the Bega Valley; he is the pastor of St.Georges Uniting Church, Eden, a rural chaplain for Anglicare (NSW South, NSW West and ACT) and chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers (Eden Port). These latter two roles are in partnership with the Sapphire Coast Anglican Parish.