Covid drives unprecedented demand for emergency food relief

by Team Bill 02 Feb 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven an unprecedented demand for emergency food relief among Sydney’s poor and homeless.

The Rev. Bill Crews Foundation has distributed over 1.1-million meals during the pandemic. That is up 149% on pre-pandemic levels.

“It is a clear indication that in spite of government support, many Sydneysiders have been unable to make ends meet”, said Rev. Bill Crews, CEO and founder of The Rev. Bill Crews Foundation.

Key facts

  • 1,116,000 meals cooked and distributed to the hungry during the pandemic.

  • 1 extra food van purchased to distribute additional meals.

  • 8 new food van distribution locations.

  • 2 new free restaurants to feed more hungry people.

  • 23,325 food hampers for needy families.

More food vans & free restaurants

Rev. Bill Crews and his team have been feeding the hungry for 35-years. However, to cater for the startling rise in demand the Foundation has had to dramatically scale-up its operations.

Indeed, their fleet of food vans has expanded and now deliver meals to the hungry at eleven different locations across Sydney. Before the pandemic three locations were sufficient to meet the need.

Also, The Rev. Bill Crews Foundation has established two brand new, free restaurants for the needy - one in Liverpool and the other in Campbelltown. That’s in addition to their iconic Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant in Ashfield.

Demographic changes

According to Rev. Crews, the demographic of those needing free meals has changed too.

“Before the pandemic we would typically see rough sleepers and people struggling on NewStart. Now we’re also seeing large numbers of people who’ve been laid off because of the pandemic, not to mention a growing underclass of the working poor”, said Rev. Bill Crews.

Expanded kitchen facilities

What’s more, the Foundation has been forced to renovate and enlarge its already expansive kitchen in order to cook the million-plus meals required for COVID food relief.

With demand still rising the Foundation faces the prospect of having to further enlarge those kitchen facilities.

Sharp rise in food parcel demand

The Rev. Bill Crews Foundation has also recorded a sharp rise in demand for emergency food parcels. These food parcels include basic items like bread, pasta, tinned fish, noodles and long-life milk.

Since the onset of the pandemic 23,325 food parcels - valued at almost $700,000 - have been given to needy families. That represents a 504% rise in the number of food parcels compared to pre-pandemic levels.

While unprecedented, the Foundation believes the sharp rise in demand for food relief reflects the growing trend of wealth inequality, albeit exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic.


Rev. Bill Crews will be available for interview on location at The Rev. Bill Crews Foundation in Ashfield.