Article Reproduced courtesy of The Age.
(Article by Rachel Eddie – The Age. Photo by Chris Hopkins)
After delivering thousands of free meals to vulnerable Victorians stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to interstate flood victims, Victoria’s Sikh volunteers need a bigger kitchen.
Volunteers in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs were already cooking 18,000 meals a year in 2019, when the Black Summer fires tore down the nation’s east coast, but ramped that up to a whopping 142,000 meals in 2020 during the pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit Victoria, we realised that this is a service which is required more than before,” Sikh Volunteers Australia founder Jaswinder Singh told The Age. “I remember the day.”
The charity — known for stepping in during natural disasters — cooked another 129,000 meals in 2021. Its volunteers have provided 11,600 meals so far this year, but they plan to cook many more once construction on a new kitchen and community centre is complete.
The new kitchen in Langwarrin has capacity for Sikh Volunteers Australia to cook 10,000 meals a day, five times as many as the current capacity.
The federal opposition on Saturday committed $700,000 to fund the new centre’s construction if Labor is elected in May, in an announcement alongside the Sikh charity at a volunteer appreciation day in Narre Warren. The funding would top up community fundraising and donations.