The Hub team preparing meal boxes (photo taken prior to mandatory wearing of masks)

Jesuit Social Services’ Ecological Justice Hub, located in Brunswick, has continued responding to the needs of the local community through its Meal Drop Program. With the extension of COVID-19 restrictions, the Hub has met an increased call for assistance by creating 620 nutritious, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan meals, all packaged in fully biodegradable cardboard boxes. Head Chef Johnny and his kitchen team imagine up a menu each week that’s centred around supplies and seasonal vegetables available at the Hub. The team has also been able to include additional items in its deliveries, including bathroom and grocery care packages, as well as fresh food packs.

Through the Working for Victoria scheme, the Ecological Justice Hub has employed several new staff members whose previous employment has been affected by COVID-19. The new team is made up of cleaners, drivers, permaculture gardeners, kitchen staff and program, welfare and community liaison staff. The creation of these additional roles has meant that the Meal Drop Program can operate safely, efficiently, with more impact and an expanded reach.

In a time of extreme isolation for many, the Meal Drop Program is proving to be more than a food delivery service. By connecting to people in the community through food, staff have been able to identify other needs such as depression, anxiety or other material aid needs. Michael McGarvie, Senior Project Advisor at the Hub, has found that the “opportunity to make real human contact, even if socially distant and COVID-safe, makes all the difference”.

You can follow the Hub’s activity on Instagram @ecojusticehubmelbourne