Free food drive attracts masses

Chobani managing director Lyn Radford and FoodBank chief communication officer Matt Tilley were among 60 helpers at the drive-through. 288199_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Long lines of drivers swarmed for a mass giveaway of food hampers at the Chobani factory in Dandenong South on Sunday 3 July.

For several hours, about 60 volunteers from Foodbank Victoria and Chobani handed out dry goods hampers, fresh food hampers and cartons of Chobani fruit yoghurt to 1000 families.

Foodbank announced the public drive-through days earlier, in response to a soaring 50,000 people seeking food each day.

Spokesperson Matt Tilley was unsurprised by the cars queuing for nearly a kilometre along Quality Drive and nearby Hammond and Frankston-Dandenong roads.

He said the main cohort were working Victorians who for the first time were buckling under “sky-rocketing” bills, mortgages, petrol and food prices.

“They’re not just people living on the street, they’re the people living in your streets.”

Many were prioritising paying the bills over buying fresh, healthy food.

“They see food as something they can compromise – that it’s discretionary.

“That can become a spiral of despair as their physical and mental health falls away and they lose resilience.”

Foodbank chief executive Dave McNamara said people were “struggling to get back in front” due to the spiking cost-of-living.

“Not only are charities struggling right now to meet the demand as they come back from Covid but people who are working and find themselves in this position for the first time, have no idea where to go.”

Chobani partnered with Foodbank to create a Fruit for Good yoghurt, in which 100 per cent profits are donated to the charity.

Managing director Lyn Radford said Chobani was proud to host the drive-through event.

“Dandenong South has been the home of Chobani since we first opened our doors in 2011, and giving back to this special community in which we live and work is very important to us.”