Griffith's Carevan caravan

For the past two years, the Neighbourhood House Community Care Centre in Griffith, NSW, has been running a mobile soup kitchen to support disadvantaged members of the community who are currently facing hardship.

The Carevan, which is run on donations and minimal funding, is staffed by trained volunteers who travel to a Council-approved location within Griffith every Wednesday night. The volunteers serve up to 120 hot and nutritious meals mainly to children aged between two to fourteen, as well as to families, the elderly, disabled, and the homeless. The main meal is followed by fruit, tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

This weekly service is a massive undertaking, involving a dedicated organising committee and numerous volunteers who work well together as a team to ensure that the Carevan is a continued success. Meals are prepared weekly on a rotating basis by local high schools and three local service clubs.

Barbara Penninga from Griffith Neighbourhood House said that the Carevan brings people more than just a meal.

“We give out toothpaste and soap if needed, books for children, and the community often comes to play sports before we eat.

“We’ve made some friends and better relationships in this community and can talk about problems and issues, and give a helping hand in other ways,” she explained.

The organisation received a grant in the first round of the Monsanto Fund-sponsored Aussie Cotton Farmers Grow Communities program, administered by FRRR. They used the $5,000 to purchase ingredients, and a volunteer named Nicole, who buys the ingredients, has a keen eye for a bargain – so much so that it took her a full year to spend the money!

No food goes to waste – leftovers are served up in takeaway containers, and thanks to the generosity of two local bakeries who jumped on board last year, the Carevan is also able to provide one or two loaves of bread to each client. Earlier this year, they served up their 12,000th meal, which is a great effort from all involved.

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