By Luke Voogt
The need for food relief meals is set to increase from 2.5 million to 3.2 million in Geelong by 2031, prompting council to allocate $10,000 to secure a potential distribution site.
The $10,000 option agreement gives a third-party food relief provider, nominated by City Hall, a chance to lease the site from July 1.
Council last week voted in support of councillor Pat Murnane’s Notice of Urgent Business to secure a warehouse at 37 Morgan Street, North Geelong.
“The owner of this site [Harvey’s of Highton] has other businesses interested in leasing his property,” Cr Murnane said.
“But he’s offered it first and foremost to the council to help address the clear need for improved food relief in our region.”
Figures indicate that local agencies are distributing about 2.5 million meals per year to people in the greater Geelong region, according to council.
Geelong needed to increase its capacity for emergency food relief to cope with an estimated increase in demand of 31 per cent by 2031, Cr Murnane said.
“The plan the council is working on is to bring more of the providers in the region under the one roof so that they can achieve better outcomes.”
Council based the decision on preliminary findings of its ratepayer-funded food assistance report, due for release in May.
Conditional on the outcomes of the final report, council also agreed to set aside $1 million to renovate the property.
It would also consider allocating up to $150,000 per year in future budgets for a nominated third party provider to run the new food relief centre, it said.
Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said the option agreement aimed to address a desperate need by taking advantage of an opportunity that had arisen.