Jim Anderson, Executive Director, Plus One Care .
Jim Anderson, Executive Director, Plus One Care .

Charity serves up 20,000kg of food to struggling gold coast families in need

GOLD Coast charity Plus One Care has served up a staggering 20,000kg of food this year to struggling members of the community amid surging demand for its crisis care, counselling and work skills programs.

The Reedy Creek-based support agency has reached out to the community to help raise $35,000 to fund much-needed upgrades to its kitchen facilities in order to continue providing food hampers and meals to local families and individuals experiencing hardship.

Plus One Care executive director Jim Anderson said the organisation feeds more than 400 families every month, a figure that has escalated throughout 2017, with a record 511 people receiving food assistance in September alone.

"In the early months of this year, we were feeding an average of 260 to 270 people per month, and that number has steadily increased, reflecting the difficulties people are having in the current economic climate," Mr Anderson said.

"It has been documented that rates of homelessness (1) and domestic violence (2) on the Gold Coast have risen dramatically, but we are also seeing many small business owners whose companies have shut down and families who are out of work and can't afford to put dinner on the table.

"There is an ocean of human need out there and people are coming to us from all sorts of backgrounds," he said.

New data released by Plus One Care reveals the organisation has provided food assistance to approximately 3522 individuals between January and September this year.

More than 1,200 food hampers have been distributed, along with more than 3,100 frozen meals made from fresh and non-perishable produce, totalling more than 20,000kg of food.

Mr Anderson said Plus One Care relied on the generosity of the community to continue its food relief and other support services, including counselling and community programs to equip people with work and life skills.

Plus One Care also operates an op shop, which stocks thousands of quality items at bargain prices within a renovated, fully air-conditioned floor space. Sales from the store provide another vital revenue stream allowing the charity to deliver its services.

The charity hopes to reach its fundraising target of at least $35,000 by Christmas, which will enable its kitchen to be upgraded to a commercial standard to keep pace with the volume of meals required.

"There are good-hearted people out there, and we are appealing to the community to donate their time and talent or make a tax-deductable contribution so we can make this project happen," Mr Anderson said.

He put out a plea to local tradespeople to lend their services, or community members to assist simply by shopping at the Plus One Care op shop, which stocks a huge variety of women's, men's and kids' clothing and shoes as well as furniture, toys, books, and much more.

"We are looking to refit the kitchen with commercial grade, stainless steel appliances and equipment including new ovens and sinks to improve efficiency and allow our volunteers to cook as often as they need to," Mr Anderson said.

Volunteers prepare a range of nutritious, ready-to-freeze meals including lasagne, quiche, spaghetti Bolognese, soup and more.

Mr Anderson said Plus One Care provided emergency assistance including food, clothing and financial budgeting support to people in crisis with the aim of establishing a long-term relationship of trust.

"We focus on valuing people at their point of need and offering our help to empower them to move forward beyond that point of crisis to become positive contributors in the community," Mr Anderson said.

The organisation runs work experience and Work for the Dole programs, as well as short courses aimed at developing life skills including money management and family foundations.

"The goal for me was always creating a centre of community and a place that is like a home and not an agency," Mr Anderson said.

"It's warm, it's friendly, there's unconditional love and we are receiving all sorts of folks. We are seeing a real cross-section of the community, so that is really what we are all about."

Plus One Care is open Tuesday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm with the op shop open until 3pm at 56 Gemvale Rd, Reedy Creek.

For more information, please visit www.plusonecbare.org.

(http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/lifestyle/teens-the-elderly-figure-in-gold-coasts-growing-homeless/news- story/48749f1d7ad11adbb06fc7a279d7af4d).

(https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/gold-coast-domestic-violence-the-floodgates-are-open- 20170131-gu2l55.html)

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