March 23, 2014
Refugee advocates have turned to crowd-funding to help feed thousands of asylum seekers battling poverty.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre launched a campaign last week to raise $150,000 to buy, fit out and run a ”food justice truck”.
The social enterprise will sell fruit, vegetables and whole foods, such as grains and legumes and canned items, to the public. Money raised will offset the cost of providing the same products, at big discounts, to asylum seekers.
The centre says it will be able to cut grocery prices up to 75 per cent for 2000 asylum seekers a month.
”We’ll be able to provide essential food items to asylum seekers for a quarter of the retail price,” the centre’s Patrick Lawrence said. ”We predict the average customer will have between $10 and $20, and we’ll be able to give them $40 to $80 worth of food.”
The truck, which will be staffed by one paid co-ordinator and 50 volunteers, would help some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people. Asylum seekers living in the community while their applications are being processed receive government payments of about $220 a week and are not allowed to work.
Mr Lawrence said maintaining a healthy diet was ”out of reach” for most asylum seekers, who lived below the poverty line. ”There are so many asylum seekers in Melbourne who have an impossible task of stretching their meagre resources,” he said. ”We’ve developed this model around the knowledge that these people have some money but nowhere near enough. And we have a competitive advantage. We’re staffed by volunteers, and we’re mobile.”