Multicap to the People!

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One of the many wonderful things that has happened at Produce to the People is the magical relationship we have formed with Multicap.  For those who do not know Multicap:

“Multicap Tasmania provides a variety of services to meet the needs of people living with a disability, their families and carers. The services are designed to be flexible and diverse to meet the individual needs of people with a disability who require assistance. By helping people develop skills and by providing support we can assist people to participate fully in their community, to express their independence, choices and opinions.

“We promote a positive image of people with disabilities by providing a means of developing skills and maintaining current abilities, in a manner which is respectful of the individual person’s age and health and considerate of their requests and choices”.

As well as… “Making full use of community opportunities to maximise each person’s potential and enhance their quality of life”.”

Every week we have a team who come out to The Farm and help out in the garden. Esther is the dynamo support worker and she supports Tony and Darren.  She is a powerhouse and her work ethic impacts directly on her offsiders.  We have seen big changes in Tony and Darren over the time they have been with us – they are all a valuable part of our volunteer family.

We are VERY pleased to say we are about to expand our ties thanks to a small grant received via Mercy Foundation.

Watch this space – more to come when we return from our winter break……

 

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Produce to the People people

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Keeping stats is part of every community project.  Stats on produce grown, stats on produce gathered, stats on produce given, stats on volunteer hours, stats on people assisted…..

We keep a tally every day we are open of the food we gather AND the numbers of people we assist, we try to keep this low key as we are pretty firm about dignity with food access but every year over one month we get into a little more detail and ask a series of questions to gather demographic stats. Luckily for us our Board Member Amina Keygan is officially a Population Demographer and she is able to translate the data for us.

Here’s the information gathered over the month of May, 2017:

In May 2017, 1,703 people were fed food sourced from Produce to the People. This was up from April (1,043) figures by 660 people or an increase of 63%. The majority of people who sourced food from Produce to the People were women (76%), and were aged primarily between 35-39 years old and those aged over 65 years.

The majority of those assisted in May were from the 7320 postcode (63%), followed by those in the 7325 postcode (17%). Similarly, 63% of those assisted in May were pensioners, followed by those who were unemployed (19%) and carers (8%). Of those on a pension, almost half were on a disability pension, while one quarter were on the aged pension. The remaining clients were either sole parents or living on a carer’s pension.

Only 1% of clients who accessed the service were on incomes between $26,000-$40,000 per annum, while the remaining 99% lived on incomes of less than $25,000.

The ‘average’ client was single, followed by those who are living in coupled relationships, and the majority of those who access Produce to the People gather food for 2-3 people (45%), although a large proportion of clients are accessing food for five or more people (22%). Close to 60% of those coming to Produce to the People are accessing food for their families and themselves (19%), followed by those who collect food for friends unable to (14%). Close to half (49%) of all clients are accessing the food service weekly, followed by those who access the service twice weekly (14%).

 

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Reality to the People

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As many of you who have been on the Produce to the People journey over the last seven or so years would know, this organisation has been run as a pretty tight ship. We’ve been sniffing oily rags and gratefully receiving donations from the amazing and big hearted people of our community, with a single focus of getting fresh food to those who need it with love and respect.

It’s a funny old thing that the clear and present needs of real Tasmanian’s so often go unnoticed, despite how many times we tweet, blog, and write to politicians, and talk to community groups about our escalating customers, and our realistic costs to run the farm and the hub, with the same amount of staff it was started with when it was just me and the van dropping off excess produce grown in domestic gardens.

It was super disappointing for PttP to not be given any funding increase in the latest State budget. For total transparency we get $25,000 from the Tasmanian Government a year to be spent on emergency food relief. That might sound like a lot, but when you think about the cost of running a food hub operation, 2 acre farm, whilst experimenting with social enterprise ideas to ensure financial sustainability, and all of the behind the scenes activity, even managing a fleet of amazing volunteers, this doesn’t even cover minimum wages for one person, one day a week, let alone the other expenses.

And so, after many years of lobbying, and begging, and belt tightening, the reality is, we can’t keep the hub open at the same level – we simply don’t have the funding to do it. It breaks our heart, but we are like any business with expenses, inputs and outputs, insurance, and at the end of the working week, we don’t have any revenue coming in from the hundreds of kilos of food we distribute – because it’s given away. That’s what we do right?

We have some brilliant plans on how to make money and become self sufficient. But like everything else, we need people to implement them, and what we need is well beyond what we’d ask a volunteer to contribute. We need investment, and we need someone to get our back with an injection of funds that allow us to scale up our food growing operations, and scale up our value adding operations. With that, we could operate, become sustainable, and grow, gather and give more than we do now.

Our only option is to open one day a week to distribute food from the hub. That is all we can responsibly afford. As a Not-For-Profit social enterprise, we have to operate under certain legal guidelines, and one of them is operating solvently. In other words we have to have money in the bank to cover all our costs. If we want to keep operating, then we can only do the hub one day a week. So from July we will be open Tuesdays. We will still be at the farm growing and doing the hours of work needed behind the scenes to keep the hub full of fresh, free food, but there are no resources to open for longer.

We love our customers, our community and our volunteers. It is our deepest, most heartfelt wish that we can find the generous sponsorship needed, and achieve our dream of how this social enterprise can truly enrich the community with jobs, skills, free food and delicious value added products. We ask you to keep supporting us, and if you use our service, keep asking the question of your local members as to why we aren’t seen as an organisation valuable enough to support. Don’t worry, we haven’t given up on us, and hope you don’t either. Look forward to seeing you on Tuesdays.

Penelope Dodd, Founder + The Produce to the People Board

If you would like to make a donation – one off or ongoing – please head to our Give Now page.  *We are working on gaining tax deductible gift status which means you can claim your donation.  It hasn’t happened yet but the paperwork has been lodged.

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