Staying food secure during COVID-19 in Central West Gippsland

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By
Central West Gippsland Primary Care Partnership
Claire Tartaro, Food Security Officer
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The Central West Gippsland Primary Care Partnership (CWGPCP) is supporting our members and community groups to increase food access and availability during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The CWGPCP has a strong history of supporting food security work across Baw Baw and Latrobe and facilitates two local Food Security Coalitions: the Baw Baw Food Movement and Food For All Latrobe Valley.

In response to COVID-19 the CWGPCP, together with our partners, identified an increased need for resources with a local area focus to support reliable access to nutritious food for our communities.

We also needed consistent messaging available through a central platform. To effectively and efficiently respond to these new challenges, we sought feedback from our partners to identify the current service gaps, community issues, pressure points and local needs.

Responding to the feedback received, we enacted the following actions in partnership with our members and local networks:

  • Assisting our communities to access nutritious foods during COVID-19 through a series of local fact sheets
  • Increasing media and online presence
  • Supporting greater communication between food relief providers
  • Increasing awareness of available food relief services
  • Identifying gaps in the availability of culturally appropriate food
  • Connecting community members with appropriate services
  • Adapting community food security actions to ensure continuity of delivery
  • Connecting our food system partners virtually
  • Keeping our community and members informed about local services

These actions were implemented across a diverse range of platforms and communication mediums including through newsletters, social media, online publications, local newspaper articles, fact sheets, virtual workshops and meetings. This varied approach was necessary to ensure that the key messaging was able to reach a broad community audience.

Through increasing our social media presence we were able to grow user engagement, with over 50% increased page views and an average 40% increased reach to our combined online community of 3,700 followers.

Modifying the frequency of emergency food relief meetings from bi-monthly to monthly was highlighted by our emergency relief agencies as a priority to make sure that they were able to stay connected and remain updated with the rapidly changing information and government directive during this time.

Through our member consultation, it became clear that our culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community had identified potential barriers to accessing culturally appropriate food relief. On behalf of our CALD community, we facilitated an online workshop to build the capacity of food relief providers and distributed two supporting fact sheets highlighting suitable items for culturally appropriate food parcels, and local access points for purchasing culturally diverse foods.

To further support those seeking to access emergency food relief, we organised the distribution of 3000 emergency relief brochures to locations that remained open during restrictions such as Centrelink, pharmacies, GP clinics, police stations, hospitals, food retailers and childcare centres. In addition to this, fortnightly updated reports assisting service providers and community members are available outlining what services are currently open and how people can access them.

As a result of these actions, our emergency food relief networks have reported feeling more connected and supported by the broader food system with stronger communication between providers. Community gardens and local fresh food outlets are noticing increased activity, and there has been renewed interest and requests for information on growing food at home. The food security resources have been shared and adapted by six other organisations across Victoria.

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our daily lives, we will remain responsive to our members' needs and support our communities to remain food secure, healthy and connected throughout the pandemic.

To learn more about how the CWGPCP is responding to COVID-19 and food security in our local areas please visit https://www.centralwestgippslandpcp.com/covid-19-coronavirus-resources

 

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