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Fresh fruit and vegies to the inner city

The Food Distribution Network (FDN) in Redfern is a not-for-profit organisation that has been delivering fresh fruit and vegetables to disadvantaged groups since 1984 writes Ellice Mol in the South Sydney Herald of November 2007.

At a cost of only nine dollars a box, clients of the FDN receive between six to eight kilos of fresh produce a week. “That’s over 30 items,” says Mark Ludbrooke, Coordinator of the FDN. “You’d probably spend 35 dollars at a supermarket for the same amount of produce.”

Workers from the FDN take the truck to the markets twice a week. On a typical day, the truck meets at the Redfern centre at 6am. The FDN team spends the morning purchasing a variety of produce from Flemington Markets. “They buy as much variety of fresh produce as they can, in bulk,” Mr Ludbrooke says. At 10am the truck returns to the Redfern centre to be unloaded by volunteers and staff. After lunch, which has been prepared by a volunteer, a team of staff begins the deliveries. “Those delivery runs take place within the city of Sydney,” says Mr Ludbrooke. “Unfortunately we can’t go any further afield.”

Staff of the FDN play a key role in the community, offering extra support to customers. “From time to time we assist the clients by putting the fruit in their fruit bowls and in their fridges. We have a chat to see how they’re going, if everything’s alright.”

The organisation is granted funding from both the Home and Community Care Program and the AIDS Trust. “All money from clients gets spent on the produce,” Mr Ludbrooke explains. “Other money covers the cost of wages and truck maintenance.” The funding available ensures service to frail people, people with disabilities and their carers as well as people with HIV/AIDS. “It’s a service to people experiencing some sort of disadvantage who are having trouble meeting their nutritional needs.”

There are a variety of impediments which can qualify people to become customers of the FDN. “Before someone becomes a client of the network there is a brief assessment and, as part of that, we ask them about their capacity to get to the shops and manage their own money,” says Mr Ludbrooke. “It’s based on someone’s capacity to access fresh fruit and vegies.”

The areas covered by the service include the Rocks, Darlinghurst, Kings Cross, Erskineville, Alexandria, Chippendale, Redfern, Waterloo, Pyrmont, Ultimo and Forest Lodge.

Photo: Ali Blogg Caption: Food Distribution Network volunteers

Source: South Sydney Herald November 2007