4 September 2023

Need a Feed's Breakfast Buddies program fills a vital gap in local services

| Keeli Royle
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Need a Feed volunteers serving breakfast at Globe Lane Wollongong for Breakfast Buddies program.

Need a Feed’s Breakfast Buddies program is filling a gap in local services. Photo: Supplied.

It’s said to be the most important meal of the day, but for the thousands of homeless people in the Illawarra, breakfast is a luxury they just can’t afford, but now a local organisation has started a new program to help them get the nutritious start they need.

For years, Need a Feed has been a trusted stop for people struggling or living on the streets, with the charity helping provide vital supports such as groceries, hot meals and personal care items.

And although they partner with other great charities in the region to try to prevent people slipping through the cracks, founder Shaz Harrison realised there was still a service no one was offering.

“There is currently no free breakfast available in Wollongong for adults facing homelessness, food insecurity or on a low income,” Shaz told Region.

“During the week there are plenty of options for the homeless for lunch and dinner, but nothing available for breakfast, an important meal to start the day.”

READ ALSO Bank staff pitch in to help Homeless Hub continue to meet surging demand

And she said there was an urgent need for one to exist.

“The demand for the breakfast program in the Illawarra is significant, as it caters to some of the 1500 people sleeping rough throughout the Illawarra and individuals and families facing food insecurity due to various circumstances, such as low income, unemployment, homelessness, domestic violence survivors and other challenges,” Shaz said.

So she did something about it.

Need a Feed has just launched Breakfast Buddies, a catch-up and a meal every fortnight.

“This program helps address food insecurity and supports individuals in various ways, such as a feeling of belonging and positive human connection,” Shaz said.

“Additionally, it fosters a sense of community and compassion by showing that people care about one another’s wellbeing.”

Breakfast Buddies volunteers back of shirts.

Volunteers, funding, sponsorship and community support will be vital for the sustainability of the program. Photo: Supplied.

The new program builds on the idea of creating and maintaining the community connection which Need a Feed is best known for.

“Over the past six and a half years we have built strong relationships with the homeless in the heart of Wollongong and provided a sense of belonging within this community with our presence by serving up coffee from our mobile coffee van,” Shaz said.

“The Breakfast Buddies program was designed to nurture the relationships we have built over time and fill a need within the community.”

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But despite the popularity and demand, ensuring the longevity and the sustainability of the program will take a lot of work.

Shaz said the program needed adequate and reliable funding sources to cover food costs, expenses, a potential expansion and a collaboration with local businesses, community organisations and volunteers.

Raising awareness and community support will also be vital for this program to succeed.

And she said they needed to be open to adapting the program and changing it over time to meet needs.

“The future of the breakfast program in the Illawarra involves continued expansion and improvement.

“This would include reaching even more people in need and fostering partnerships with local communities, businesses, and organisations to create a sustainable and supportive network,” Shaz added. “Ultimately, the goal would be to reduce food insecurity and improve the overall wellbeing of those who benefit from the program.”

To find out more or to get in touch visit the Need a Feed website.

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