The Food Box Project was started by Rachel Lafain for Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders who had lost jobs due to COVID-19. Catherine Russell of Circle 124 and Libby Hogarth, Circle 92, then collaborated to co-ordinate an expansion of this project. Catherine gathered the names of Bridging Visa holders in need of help, plus some on SHEVs and Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). Free food was provided by Pathways 2nd Bite in Modbury, and other suppliers, and Rachel and Libby purchased additional necessities. By mid April, boxes of food, cleaning products and pharmaceutical items were being delivered by a team of 55 volunteers to 150 people across 63 houses.
When Rachel started a new circle to provide other services, and Libby resumed her migration agency business, co-ordination was continued by Catherine. Meanwhile, funds flowed in from private donors, and grants were gained from the Australian Red Cross, Grants SA and four other trusts. We, the management committee of COFA, members of the Circles, and the benefiting asylum seekers and refugees are deeply grateful for this generosity.
From the beginning of July Red Cross (using funds from the Federal Grant they received to assist people on Temporary Visas that had not been provided any Centrelink support during COVID-19) and the $10,000 we received from Grants SA, have reimbursed all the project’s food and essential expenses.
Going forward the good news is that a number of the food recipients are beginning to regain some level of employment, and it is hoped that their need for food aid will soon diminish. Overall, the project has been a remarkable success.