Something happened the other morning that shocked me. A lady, like so many others, arrived early at my Foundation in Ashfield for food. She’d walked several suburbs to reach us. That’s not unusual, it’s what happened next that really took my breath away. She asked for bread and Vegemite so she could make sandwiches for her kids to take to school. She was determined they wouldn’t go hungry at lunchtime.
Hunger is the brutal reality facing an increasing number of Sydneysiders. Indeed, the cost of living crisis means we now feed the hungry, as well as the homeless. And in greater numbers than ever before.
I’m sure you can appreciate how dire the financial situation is for many low income people. Skyrocketing rents and high grocery prices mean they have to choose between paying for heating or feeding the kids; getting medicine or having breakfast. These are the choices many Sydneysiders now face every day.
At my food van a young man came up to me and said: “I never thought I would find myself in this situation”. It’s a lament that’s becoming a chorus among so many who are turning to us in desperation. I fear this situation is only going to get worse as another cold and wet winter bites.
Winter is especially cruel on rough sleepers who call the streets ‘home’. They come out of the shadows each night to get a warm meal from our food van. It’s often the only thing they’ll eat all day. Of course it’s a small comfort, but it’s better than nothing. Heaven knows where they’ll rest their heads this evening.
Sometimes I worry Sydney has grown indifferent to the plight of rough sleepers. So much so that people simply walk around them, but me and my team are determined to give the homeless the dignity they deserve.
As well as nutritious meals we make sure they’ve got warm clothes, we give them snug blankets and sleeping bags, and we keep them well with basic healthcare. I think it’s what you expect of us. Indeed, it’s what me and my team expect of ourselves.
That said, it has always been a struggle to meet the need of those who come to us for help – especially at winter time. Now though, that need is unprecedented. People are begging for help. Not just the homeless, but people who simply can’t make ends meet. People like that lady who came to us for her kids school lunches.
We now cook about 1,600 meals for the hungry and homeless every day. Our food vans deliver those meals to 17 different locations across Sydney. In fact, just one of our vans can serve up to 600 meals! What’s more, we have three free sit-down restaurants where those in need can eat a meal and get help from our social workers too.
However, all this is still not enough. So many people are asking us for help that we are struggling to feed and care for them all.
In these unprecedented times I am asking you for help, more so than ever before. It’s not for us, it’s for those who really need it: The homeless and rough sleepers, as well as those Sydneysiders who can’t afford enough food to eat.
My Foundation needs your support to feed and care for them all this winter. If you donate we can cook more meals. We can take that food to more hungry people. And we can offer warmth and kindness to even more rough sleepers.
If we don’t do this together then who will? That’s why I’m asking you to make an extraordinary donation this winter. Please give today, sure in the knowledge I will honour your kindness in the best way I know how.
Rev. Bill Crews