Later this month, free food van events are set to go ahead in small, rural communities around the Queanbeyan-Palerang region.
It’s a plan that’s been put into motion by Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council’s Disaster Recovery Hub to engage local residents from small towns such as Gundillion and Nerriga to find out what concerns these communities might have on issues including disaster preparedness and recovery, and personal concerns for the community.
A local caterer from Braidwood has been engaged to serve food for most of the events, although in bigger communities other local businesses have also been engaged.
It will be a chance for locals to collect a free takeaway meal, which council’s community recovery officer, Berkeley Braham, says will be an opportunity appreciated by many given there are limited opportunities to do so at the moment.
However, Mr Braham says the ‘Food for Thought: Community Food Van’ events are about much more than the meal. He’s keen to engage residents from many small regional communities in conversations and let them guide how the events happen.
“We want to see how people are going and just have a chat,” he said.
As an example, if somebody is concerned about their mental health, the team will also be able to provide contact details for services and clinicians if that is what’s required.
The Disaster Recovery Hub was created in the aftermath of the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, and it’s hoped these events will provide some support to residents in affected areas.
Other events relating to disaster preparedness for the upcoming summer and bushfire season have moved online, such as the NSW Rural Fire Service’s ‘Get Ready Weekend’.
These small regional communities have been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, much like many parts of Australia.
“We were concerned that these smaller communities weren’t seeing anyone at all, and because bigger events had been cancelled we thought this might be a good way of doing some kind of interaction and getting out into the community,” said Mr Braham.
The team will run the events in a COVID-19-safe manner so all orders will be placed and then distributed in a socially distanced way.
“While I don’t think they have any specific issues with lockdown, people in these towns are doing it tough in isolation, as we all are,” said Mr Braham.
It is hoped these events can be brought back next year on a larger scale, but this will be dependent on the COVID-19 situation at the time.
The events this September will occur in Reidsdale, Araluen, Gundillion, Majors Creek, Bombay, Nerriga and Mongarlowe.
Here is the schedule of the events:
Reidsdale Old Cheese Factory: Sunday, 19 September, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.
Araluen Recreation Ground: Monday, 20 September, from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Di Izzards Shearing Shed Gundillion: Tuesday, 21 September, from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Majors Creek Pub: Saturday, 25 September, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Bombay RFS Shed: Sunday, 26 September, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.
Nerriga Pub: Monday, 27 September, from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Mongarlowe RFS Shed: Tuesday, 28 September, from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
For more information on the ‘Food for Thought: Community Food Van’ events, visit Facebook or contact the Disaster Recovery Hub on 02 6285 6789.